MISSED targets show Renfrewshire Council efforts to tackle workplace absence aren’t working, an elected member has claimed.

Figures from April to December last year show Environment and Infrastructure’s department lost 10.35 days per full-time equivalent (FTE) worker – 2.83 days above its target.

Building Services was the worst affected within the department as 17.09 days were lost per FTE worker, dwarfing the 7.52 target.

Other services which missed the target were building cleaning, housekeeping and school janitorial.

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Councillor Eddie Devine described absence in the department as a “vicious cycle”.

He said: “As an outside worker in my real life before I was a councillor, you were working in all weathers.

“What concerns me is there isn’t enough in place to address the workforce absence. I think stress is a factor.

“There isn’t enough help to get the workforce back to work.

“I know a lot of the long term ones are serious illnesses and I understand that. I’m not going to attack them.

“There needs to be things in place to help people back to work.

“A lot of the problem seems to be with not a lot of people there to do the work, more and more is being piled on the people that are there.

“It’s a vicious cycle where you’re getting more work piled on to you and more pressure to get it done quicker with less back-up and less people.

“Clearly what the council is doing isn’t working because the sick rate is still there and that’s not good enough.”

The Gazette: Cllr Eddie Devine believes stress is a factor Cllr Eddie Devine believes stress is a factor

However, the 10.35 days lost in the first three quarters of 2018/19 is an improvement on 11.28 days lost during the same period in 2017/18.

In a report to a recent Finance, Resources and Customer Services Policy Board, addressing absence levels was said to be a “key priority” for the council.

This includes a “proactive approach to managing absence and supporting attendance at work”.

The council is working with its HR to provide a more consistent approach to managing the problem.

It has also introduced physiotherapy sessions at its Underwood Road depot and is engaging with occupational health services to improve appointment timescales.

A spokesman for the local authority said: “We recognise the key role our staff play in ensuring the council is able to deliver high-quality services and as this report highlights, addressing absence levels is a key priority and the latest statistics highlight an improvement on the same period last year.

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“We provide a wide range of support to assist employees and support their attendance, including counselling and physiotherapy available for all employees to ensure they are fit and able to carry out their role.”