THE number of teachers and other education staff off due to illness has gone up, according to the most recent figures.

Statistics to go before the education committee this week show 3,226 days were lost due to sickness in the third quarter of the financial year, a rise of 361 days compared to the same time last year.

Overall there is a slight decrease in absence for teachers and a slight increase for support staff compared to a year ago.

Council wide, sickness absence is down 3.1 per cent. Long-term absence accounts for 65 per cent of all missed days and all education staff have seen a rise in long-term absence.

Minor illness accounts for the biggest reason for being unable to work, with person stress the second most common reason for support staff and work-related stress as the third main reason for teachers.

The report states: “In support of employees, managers are referring to Occupational Health as early as possible and ensuring employees are offered access to the relevant support agencies such as ‘Time for Talking’, and other external agencies as required.

“A work stream, as part of the employee wellbeing group, has also been established to assess employees understanding of mental wellbeing with a view to ascertaining any improvements in supports that may be required.”

Based on the cost of a day’s absence, the third quarter cost the council more than £1.6 million in lost days, not including the expense of cover or overtime.