Sickness absence in the Northern Ireland Civil Service revealed in report

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Friday, September 22nd, 2017

The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) has published the report “Sickness Absence in the Northern Ireland Civil Service 2016/2017”.

This is their seventeenth annual report on sickness absence and it contains analyses of trends over the last five years.



The key findings include the headline absence figure for 2016/2017, which was 12.4 days (average days lost per staff year), an increase from 11.7 days in the previous year and the highest it has been in the last five years.

The 12.4 days lost per staff year represented 5.6% of the available working days in 2016/2017. In salary terms, this equated to an estimated £32.7million of lost production – the same as in 2015/2016. This is equivalent to around 3.8% of the total NICS pay bill in 2016/2017.



Just under half (49.5%) of staff had no recorded absence in 2016/2017 though approximately one in every eight staff had at least one spell of long-term absence lasting around three months on average. This was the highest level of long-term absence observed in the last five years, and accounted for more than three quarters of all working days lost.

Anxiety/Stress/Depression/Other Psychiatric Illnesses was the absence reason that accounted for the greatest proportion of working days lost (35.2%) during 2016/2017. Within this category, work-related stress accounted for a third of the days.



The level of absence within Departments varied from 7.9 days for the Executive Office to 15.3 days for the Department of Justice (DoJ). DoJ was, however, the only Department to record lower absence levels this year compared to last.

The absence level for females (14.7 days) remained higher than that for males (10.4 days) with over half of this difference being due to gender-specific conditions.

Staff who had been in post for under two years had a much lower level of sickness absence (3.0 days) than staff who had been employed for two years or more (12.6 days). Around three quarters of the staff employed for under two years would have been on probationary terms and conditions, which would include the more stringent management of sickness absence.



The report is available on the NISRA website at:

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