Regulator recorded better than average sickness levels last year, figures show

Charity

The Charity Commission recorded a better than average level of sickness absence last year, new figures show. 

A request made by Third Sector using freedom of information legislation found that the total number of days lost to sickness was 2,013 for the 2020 calendar year.

According to its latest accounts, the regulator employed 421 staff as of 31 March 2020, meaning the average number of days lost to sickness was about 4.8. 

This is better than the UK average – the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development puts the rate of employee absence at 5.8 days per employee in 2020, or 2.6 per cent of working time lost. 

A second request made under FOI legislation revealed that 378 days were lost at the commission for reasons of mental health-related illness. 

In its response to the additional request, the regulator said it could not reveal the number of days lost specifically to stress because it related to a low number of instances and consequently heightened the risk that individual staff members could be identified.

The regulator said it used specific measures to support employee mental health, including allowing staff to work flexible hours as far as possible and having access to a range of trained Mental Health First Aiders within the organisation for one-on-one support and advice, who could also signpost to other services if needed.

It also said it offered an employee assistance programme for staff and their families, which included a 24-hour helpline that could connect staff with qualified counsellors for confidential support and guidance, with counselling sessions available without charge if needed.

The regulator said it held regular all-staff sessions on managing mental health relating to the challenges of Covid-19, working from home and, more recently, returning to the office, plus an adapted induction programme to assist new staff with the challenges of starting a new job working from home.

A commission spokesperson said: “The Charity Commission is committed to supporting staff health and wellbeing.

“The pandemic and the necessary shift to home working for our workforce has been a significant adjustment and, as an employer, we’ve aimed to be as flexible and supportive as possible. 

“The findings of our recent staff survey showed staff feel positive about the mental health provisions on offer at the commission and we are committed to this remaining in place as we move forward, so that staff can feel best placed in their work supporting, advising and regulating charities.”

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