COUNCIL chiefs are getting a grip on sickness-related absence.

Flintshire Council has come under fire over the amount of days lost due to staff sickness.

Last year deputy council leader Cllr Tony Sharps blasted the “sick note culture” at the council after it emerged the sickness-related absence figures were far higher than the private sector.

But Helen Stappleton, the council’s head of human resources, told a meeting of the council’s executive committee that the figures were improving.

“We have made a number of changes and improvements,” she said.

“There has been a slight increase in the number of days lost when compared with last year, but there has been an improvement when compared to the last quarter and these figures will reduce by the next quarter when the paperwork is put through the system.

“The trend will continue this quarter and we will see a steady improvement in attendance.”

The amount of days lost per person during the first quarter of 2010/11 was 2.44 compared to 2.27 during the same period last year, but is an improvement on the figure of 3.03 from the final quarter of 2010/11.

The community services department remains the highest department for days lost due to sickness, but the figures are improving. During the past 12 months there has been a decrease of more than a day per full time employee falling from 16.43 days lost in 2009/10 to 15.10 days lost in 2010/11.

This is the second biggest decrease of all the council’s directorates.

- FLINTSHIRE Council has also reduced its reliance on agency workers.

Miss Stappleton told the meeting the agency head count was reducing.

There was a slight increase in May, but she assured the meeting it was normal for the time of the year.

In June the agency worker head count stood at 190 compared to 209 in May and 180 in April.

She said: “This is a spike we would expect during this quarter because of the seasonal impact with things like grass cutting and pruning.”