ROBUST MANAGEMENT OF ATTENDANCE PUTS 19 OFFICERS BACK ON THE BEAT
Archived news: published on Thursday 30 Apr 2009 by Fife Constabulary
DCC ANDREW LAING
AN EXTRA 19 police officers are effectively back in operation across Fife Constabulary following the introduction of progressive new measures to increase attendance.
For the past two years, the Force has focused on increasing attendance of police officers and police staff who may otherwise have been absent as a consequence of health conditions.
In 2006/7, figures for the number of working days lost by police officers stood at 5.6 per cent, slightly above the Scottish average. The figure for police staff was marginally below the Scottish average at 5.2 per cent.
Recognising that many health conditions merely limit the type of duties our staff could perform, rather than excluding them from work completely, the force set about examining how best to reduce unnecessary absences.
Six weekly case conferences now take place between Human Resources officers and line managers to monitor those who are on long-term sick leave. This often results in these staff members gaining the support and encouragement they need to return to work or being facilitated back into restricted, but productive roles whilst they return to full health.
While the Force has focused on assisting staff with long term health problems, a firmer approach has also been taken with those who are frequently absent for shorter periods. In a small number of cases the Force has removed the right to self certify from a small number of staff in this category and advised that a failure to improve attendance could result in disciplinary action. In the majority of those cases, attendance has seen a marked improvement.
The Force also considered it important to recognise staff with a very good attendance record. For the past two years, around 500 staff who have not been absent in the past 12 months have received a personal letter of appreciation from the Deputy Chief Constable.
Last year, workshops were held with staff across the Force to build on the improving attendance and develop a longer term approach to reducing absence. As a result, managers now receive additional training in managing absence among their staff.
Fife’s Police Fire and Safety Committee heard that as a result of all the measures taken, working days lost by police officers and police staff had fallen to 3.5 per cent and 4.4 per cent respectively. In effect, this provides the equivalent of an additional 19 police officers and four police staff members being available for duty within our communities and supporting operational delivery.
Deputy Chief Constable Andrew Laing said he was delighted that the proactive measures taken by the Force had proved successful in getting people back to work and doing meaningful work in communities.
“Our Policing Plan 2009/10 places the emphasis on frontline policing and providing an even better service. An integral part of this is ensuring staff are available either in those communities or in the services which directly support frontline policing to the people of Fife.
“We have focused on increasing the scope for people being at work. While we have ensured support for those who need it, a more robust approach for the small minority of habitual absentees has paid off.
“We have also found that those who have been absent long term, and who have often felt isolated from the Force, have responded positively to the contact with their manager and gained the confidence and support to return to work.
“I would like to thank all our staff for playing their part in this improving picture and particularly those who rarely, if ever, take a day off work.”