Only civil servants with “genuine” mental health conditions should be granted leave of absence, a Tory MP representing Kettering has said. Philip Hollobone raised concerns over an increase in sickness absence within the Civil Service.
He attributed this rise to what he described as “alleged stress and mental health reasons”. Speaking during Cabinet Office questions, Mr Hollobone sought clarification on the Government’s measures to ensure that only those with “genuine mental health conditions” are granted leave of absence.
Asked how many days of sick leave due to mental health were taken by civil servants in 2022, Cabinet Office Minister Jeremy Quin said: “Civil service sickness absence data are published on an annual basis.
“The latest data indicates that an average of 2.3 working days were lost per staff year due to mental ill health for the year ending March 31 2022.”
Mr Hollobone asked: “I understand that nearly three-quarters of a million civil service working days were lost to alleged stress and mental health reasons and that this figure is 40 per cent up on the year before.
“Now, of course those with genuine mental health needs need appropriate support, but given that many civil servants enjoy pay and pension packages, way in excess of what many people can get in the private sector, what steps is the Government taking to ensure that only those with genuine mental health conditions are granted leave of absence?”
Mr Quin replied: “I know he will be aware that there has been in the private and public sector a large spike in all sickness absence this year, of course, comparative data was with the pandemic period.
“And the good news for him actually is that the most recent figures from ONS (Office for National Statistics) show that sickness absence for all forms is lower in the most recent period in central Government departments than it is in the private sector.
“But we do work with people who are unwell, using occupational health and employee assistance provision to ensure that they do get the support that they need and we continue to wish to drive down the numbers of people who are off because of ill health…”