STRESS-related absences by Wiltshire Council staff have increased by nearly a third in a few months.

Between April and June stress-related absences among staff at the council rose by 31 per cent compared with the previous quarter.

Stress has also contributed to 43 per cent of total absence days during the same period.

The council’s quarterly workforce report, states the rise is from children’s and adult social care, joint commission and IT.

The report said: “Results of the July 2021 wellbeing and engagement survey and intelligence from the relevant HR business partners suggests that social care is experiencing increased demand (adults) and latent demand (children’s) and are having to work very differently as a result of the pandemic.

READ MORE: Numbers of special costables in Wiltshire drops

“Many of the staff in these areas report that they do not feel empowered to take a break from work to support their own mental wellbeing, which could be contributing to this increase in stress-related absence.”

The report goes on to say this is similar to the council’s joint commissioning team.

It continued: “In addition there is a restructure underway within IT and results from the recent wellbeing and engagement survey suggests that staff in this area are feeling pessimistic about the future and are currently citing future uncertainty as their biggest concern, which may be contributing to the increase in stress-related absence.

“These responses will be discussed in senior management team meetings and the wellbeing and engagement survey action planning process, to understand how the council can support these services.”

READ MORE: A350 junctions to temporarily shut next month for road works

Cabinet member for staffing, Simon Jacobs said: “The January to March 2021 quarter reported a comparably low level of sickness absence, influenced by the country being in a third lockdown.

"This resulted in less transmission of shorter-term infections, coughs and colds than we would typically report in this quarter.

“With the easing of restrictions in the latest quarter reported (April to June 2021), overall sickness absence has returned to a level similar to pre-Covid trends, resulting in a higher-than-normal quarter-on-quarter increase in reported sickness absence.

"Although stress-related absence has increased in this quarter, this appears to be predominantly due to non-work related stress and depression or anxiety which can potentially be a result of wider influences related to the pandemic.

READ MORE: Trans councillor says Police & Crime Commissioner’s statements caused ‘significant alarm and distress’

“The council monitors all sickness absence and deploys the robust policies and procedures that are in place, as well as a range of services and tools, to support the wellbeing of staff and reduce absence.

"This includes workshops to support wellbeing, health promotion campaigns, initiatives and online resources, and occupational health services that includes access to counselling.”