COUNCIL staff in Wrexham took more than 50,000 sick days in the last year as newly released statistics have highlighted an increase in absence rates.

The total number of sick days for the local authority went up by around four per cent, which equates to eleven and a half days for each of its employees.

Almost a third of staff were absent as a result of stress, anxiety and depression which continues to be the most common reason, with mental health related sick days rising by almost five per cent annually.

However, Wrexham Council says it has taken steps to try improve sickness rates, including by providing access to counselling.

In a report set to go before councillors on Wednesday, Councillor David Kelly, the authority’s lead member for organisation, said: “There are various initiatives that aim to ensure we continue to review and reduce

absence levels.

“We continue to promote the employee assistance programme, introduced in July 2018.

“This enables employees to access counselling support and offers the use of a dedicated website which provides self-help information, guidance and advice on a range of subjects that impact on employee health and wellbeing.

“Health and well being events are held throughout the year for all employees.

“The main event was held in November 2018 and further events including a mental health event were held in February which linked to the national campaign of ‘Time to Talk’.”

The other main reasons for absence included general illnesses at just under 20 per cent, musculo-skeletal conditions at around 13.2 per cent and infections at slightly above 10 per cent.

Non-teaching school staff took the highest amount of sick days, with 12,052 in the last 12 months, followed by teachers with 8,436.

In reponse to the figures, the council’s education department said absence levels had remained static since last year.

It said: “Managers within the education department robustly mange sickness absences paying due attention to corporate polices and the Bradford Factor.

“The department devotes capacity and time to develop its staff.

“For example in December 2018, a whole department meeting involving over 400 staff attended a workshop on metal resilience and emotional well being.”

The report will be considered by members of the authority’s customers, performance, resources and governance scrutiny committee on Wednesday.