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Council / Council absence rate around three times higher than usual

Shetland Islands Council headquarters at North Ness. Photo: Shetland News

THE ABSENCE rate across the Shetland Islands Council (SIC) workforce is sitting at roughly 14 per cent – around three times the usual figure.

The most common reason for this is staff members living in households with someone displaying Covid-19 symptoms.

SIC chief executive Maggie Sandison said the usual absence rate is around five per cent – with current absences “a lot higher at the moment”.

As of December the council had 2,394 full time equivalent workers.

Sandison said on Tuesday that among the absences were 116 staff in community care resources and adult services.

She explained that the absences cover people either with symptoms themselves, those living in a household with symptoms, or if they have a vulnerability that means they shouldn’t be having social contact.

Some staff have also been redeployed to other areas of the council to cover shortfalls, while a number of employees are working from home.

“Most of the staff who are not at work at the council are absent because of household symptoms,” Sandison said.

“We don’t have lots of people off because of having symptoms themselves. However, we have been maintaining our ability to deliver the services by redeploying staff from other service areas.

“We also have a bank of relief staff that we have been using, and we are recruiting more staff to come and work if maybe they’ve had experience in the past.

“But we are also asking existing staff if they will do extra hours over and above their contracted hours.”