BBC staff: 92,000 sick days, and a £12.2 million sick bill

The Sun newspaper reports over the weekend allege that information acquired under a Freedom of Information request showed that staff working for the BBC had 91,992 days off sick last year — with licence fee payers picking up the £12.5million bill.


It means nearly 250 years’ worth of working days were lost due to illness in the past 12 months, working out at an average of nearly eight days off per staff member, per year in the company’s world service and broadcasting teams.

There was a similar level of absentees in Northern Ireland and Wales.

More than 17,500 days were lost by BBC news employees in the English regions, who took an average of nearly seven days off each in 2015.

There was a similar average in Scotland where nearly 8,000 days were lost to sickness.

Only employees working for the BBC Trust and BBC Television and those in the North had an average of less than three days off each year.

The Beeb employs more than 19,000 people and has a wage bill of a ­massive £990million.

Despite the figure sounding high, a Corporation spokesman defended the figures, saying the number of sick days had fallen by 14 per cent since 2010.

He added: “The employee average is broadly in line with the national average.  We take the wellbeing of our staff seriously, and provide a number of health-related support schemes.”

Absence management expert Adrian Lewis of Activ Absence said the public should not be surprised by the figures:

“The CIPD Absence Management Report in 2015 found the rate of UK average sick days was just under 7%, so whilst the BBC rates are slightly higher, we aren’t talking about the mammoth levels that the headlines imply.  However, it does illustrate just how costly sickness absence is for UK employers when looked across a business as a whole, and it’s one of the first things employers panic about when they put in the tools to measure its impact.  


“Prior to measuring the problem most organisations say they ‘don’t have a problem with sickness’, and I’m guessing line managers at the BBC would still say that.  However, if they want to tackle the problem, absence management software can usually reduce sickness absence by 20-30%.  With a bill of £12.5 million, that would mean an extra £3.75 million to spend making programmes and better staff engagement, and certainly better headlines.”

Author: Editorial Team

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