NIPSA today responded to the statistical report on Civil Service sickness levels by placing the full responsibility at the door of the NICS management.

NIPSA General Secretary, Alison Millar, said:

"After last year's report we raised with NICS management the need to do more to address in particular the level of illness due to anxiety/stress/depression and psychiatric illness. We offered to work jointly to see what could be done, in response we were told all that could be done was being done. This is not the case, management continue to make cuts, attack terms and conditions, change how people work and pile on more pressure whilst totally failing to address the root cause of the problem."

The report considers various figures and factors, including that mental health issues account for 36% of absence and within that category work-related stress accounted for approximately a third of the days lost.

Alison Millar condemned the hype around the annual publication of the report:

"Each year the NI Statistics Agency is allowed to issue a report that is based on data only and not informed by the true reasons that lie behind the data. NICS management do not comment on the report, as they know only too well that they carry the responsibility for a workplace that fails to properly assess the problems and fails to protect staff from the harm caused by applying continuous additional pressure on staff with less resources. It is time for NICS Management to properly engage with NIPSA to improve the working environment", she said.

The report details the level of long term absence and gender specific illness impact and other data without commenting on cause etc.

Alison Millar said:

"It is time to stop this annual ritual of a witch hunt against civil servants and for the civil service and others to understand that the pressures on civil servants both economic and workplace pressures are the cause with the resultant adverse impact on health and morale. Rather than taking the current approach and being focused on ill-informed target setting I again call on the management to sit down with NIPSA to seek real and meaningful resolutions to the causes of ill-health in the workplace."