STAFF sickness levels at Clackmannanshire Council remain the highest among all local authorities in Scotland, elected members will hear tomorrow.

The Audit Committee, sitting on Thursday, February 7, will review crucial performance information, which compares the council's record against others in the Local Government Benchmarking Framework for 2017-18.

Around a year ago the Advertiser highlighted how sickness rates at the council, both for teachers and all other staff, was ranked at 32nd out of 32 and the latest figures show little change.

For each employee, excluding teachers, 16.8 working days were lost on average through sickness absence in 2017-18 – up by 0.3 days from the previous year.

In 2015-16, the figure stood at 13.4 days only while the latest Scottish average is 11.4 days.

The council had hoped to bring this number down to 12 days, still above the Scottish average, but missed its target with a slight hike instead.

Comments from management suggest the high figure is due to long term illness, saying the majority of absences were for "28 days or more".

Absence rates for teachers have improved; however, Clacks Council is still at the very bottom of the table.

The average working days lost though sickness absence, per teacher, was 9.1 days in 2017-18, compared to a Scottish average of 5.9 days.

This is down from 9.8 days lost to illness in 2016-17, but as with other workers, the figure skyrocketed after 2015-16 when it was just 7.2 days.

Council papers say HR and senior managers had been closely monitoring the trends and data throughout the year.

And added: "We introduced additional training; HR are providing targeted support for headteachers and managers; and data is reviewed regularly with schools.

"In 2018-2019, there will be an increased focus on individual schools, short and long term absence, and rigorous monitoring."