Staffordshire's probation workers face sack for staying off sick
PROBATION service staff have been warned they face the sack if they keep calling in sick.
Staffordshire and West Midlands (SWM) Probation Trust chief executive Mike Maiden issued the warning in the face of rising staff sickness levels.
Latest figures show each worker is on course to take an average of 12.2 days off sick since the beginning of April.
That compares with 9.6 days throughout 2011/12, and 8.3 days among probation trusts across England and Wales.
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Now Mr Maiden has called for action to reverse the sickness figures.
Almost 350 probation staff are based in Staffordshire, with a further 176 in Stoke-on-Trent.
Mr Maiden said: "As chief executive one of the things that causes me most concern is the level of sickness absence within SWM.
"It is a matter of concern that employees are suffering ill health but it is also of concern that colleagues who are not off sick face additional work and potential stress through picking up responsibilities on behalf of others.
"I expect all managers to share my aim to ensure that sickness absence is kept to the minimum that is possible."
A breakdown of the latest sickness figure reveals Stoke-on-Trent workers are taking an average of 8.4 days off sick.
Those workers have now been handed a target to have less than seven days off sick in a year.
In Staffordshire, the target is 10 days, despite each worker currently having 12.2 days off sick.
Mr Maiden added: "Whatever we do, there will always be a number of staff who do go off work sick and how we deal with them is another vital building block in reducing absence.
"Managing sickness absence is a fundamental responsibility of all managers.
"Unless early stages of the sickness absence process are implemented properly we run the risk of managing poorly those at later stages who face the prospect of losing their jobs.
"Where employees are unable to demonstrate acceptable levels of attendance, contracts will be terminated."
The poor attendance records have today been blamed on cuts within the probation service.
Sandra Kay, aged 59, of Meir Park, whose late husband Robert worked for the probation service for nine years,
said: "There have been a lot of cuts made and I think these sickness days are part of a much deeper problem.
"There has been a lot of upheaval and bad feelings among those in the probation service and they are getting desperate."