NAO slams probation service over sick leave

Audit watchdog, the National Audit Office, has calculated that the cost of
employees taking sick leave amounted to more than £31m last year.

On average staff took 12.3 days off a year, way above the official target of
nine days. In total 66,420 more working days were lost each year than

The NAO said the cost could have be reduced by £11m if the nine-day target
was met. It said that one third of days lost were due to stress, costing £9.8m.

‘Managing sickness absence more effectively will lead to better value for
money in the probation service,’ said NAO chief Sir John Bourn.

‘Tackling the problem will require investment in better information, robust
and proactive management, and consistent application locally of policies that
have been agreed nationally, particularly to tackle stress and improve work-life

Edward Leigh, chairman of the Commons public accounts committee, said if the
probation service was to carry out its duties effectively, it ‘must crack down
on a culture of absenteeism and low staff morale which is prevalent’.

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