COUNCIL workers in Worcester who injure themselves at work will receive increased rates of sick pay, it has emerged.

Until now Worcester City Council staff who were absent due to workplace accidents only got sick pay at 90 per cent of their normal salary for a certain time, followed by a period of half-pay.

The timeframes alter on a sliding scale depending on how long staff have worked at the authority – it is one month at 90 per cent pay for staff in their first year of employment, for example, and six months for those who have served five years or longer.

However, following concerns from Unison, all workers off work due to workplace accidents will now get 100 per cent sick pay during those initial months.

The council says it has decided on the change after general sickness absence rates improved.

In the 2013/14 financial year, which ran to the end of March, four employees were off sick after work-related accidents, taking a total of 35 days off.

Although the decision will cost taxpayers more money, the council says it will be on an initial trial period for eight months, running to next March.

In July your Worcester News revealed that overall sickness absence rates had plunged 32 per cent in one year. The average city council worker took 12 days off per year in 2012/13, but in 2013/14 it fell to just eight. The figures for 2012/13 showed a shock 38 per cent rise, which cost taxpayers £180,000.

A new report from human resources manager Mark Edwards reveals the council is prepared to scrap the extra benefit if it has a negative impact on attendance levels.

Mr Edwards said: “During this time we would monitor the impact of this initiative and continue to review our overall sickness absence performance. “Providing that our sickness performance does not deteriorate, we would look to continue the scheme while reserving the right to revert to 90 per cent at any time if it is deemed that the scheme is having a negative impact on attendance levels.

“Paying different rates for different types of sickness absence is an unorthodox step.

“However, given the progress our employees have made in improving attendance rates in the last year we have taken this opportunity to respond positively to a staff concern about the perceived fairness of the current arrangements.”

It was backed during a meeting of the council's personnel committee yesterday.

Last year the council announced a series of measures to crackdown on sickness, including cutting pay to 90 per cent for those off ill who have not had workplace accidents.

It also included a new telephone procedure so employees who ring in sick must now speak to a more senior member of the leadership team, and health checks from NHS nurses.