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Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Police must man-up and sack the sickies

A chum of mine spent most of the 1990s taking over Council building departments, along with the work that they did. TUPE - the right of transferred workers to keep their previous terms and conditions - didn't bother him. Always among those transferred were a handful of long-term sickies, absent for more than six months, and many who regularly took 30 or 40 sick days a year. His first action was to purge the sickies - using disciplinary procedures. You see, he found that procedures to shed illness-prone workers were already in place in the transferred conditions, but that councils had never bothered to apply them.

I accept that the police are a bit different. Firstly, we expect them to roll about in the gutter if required to detain villains. This carries an obvious risk of injury. Tasers, pepper spray and the like are therefore designed not to subdue baddies more humanely or more effectively but to lessen the risk of injury to plods. Likewise, plod can no longer wade into a pond to rescue a drowning child because of the risk of personal injury. Thus employers can demonstrate they have done everything possible to mitigate the risk, and lessen the danger of being sued by injured constables. A few drowned infants are an easy price for Chief Constables to pay, and they can possibly even prosecute the parents. 

But those same Chief Constables are also PR manipulators who encourage plods to be injured when there is news film about of black-armoured plods giving a good truncheoning to some dreadlocked vegans, so that the news can lead with headlines such as 'Two police injured in violent protests at power station'. Incidentally, that's a real headline - but when Kent Police were challenged to identify the injuries of the two officers they turned out to be an insect sting and a thumb sprained in opening a police van door.    

The astonishing recent rises in police sickness, at a time when crime rates have plummeted due to demographic conditions, and with few violent protests or industrial disputes about, make it certain that plod is swinging the lead. It may be that some of this is due to them not having enough to do - that it's boredom sickness - in which case downsizing will be an effective medicine. Otherwise, I'm sure disciplinary procedures exist to get rid of sicky cops in six months - no pension, no redundancy pot. Just lawfully dismissed for excessive sickness. 

Of course any plods genuinely injured in the course of duty and unable to be employed thereafter in any capacity should receive decent medical pensions, but these will be few and far between. The slackers, liars, cheats and thieves of public funds will dominate - and must be cleansed from our police forces.


Weekend Yachtsman said...

It's a common problem in our feather-bedded public sector.

There are people in the NHS and the state schools, who have been "on the sick" for literally years - usually with nebulous conditions like "stress". The GP's take the easy path of continuing to write the "lines", there's no sanction at all on the employees, and their jobs will be filled, if at all, by much more expensive agency staff.

It's a failure of management, of course; they don't seem to have heard of "frustration of contract", and they're afraid to make waves with the unions, lest it upset their own quiet path towards gold-plated inflation-proof early retirement.

The British disease is alive and well, it seems.

formertory said...

@WY - I agree in broad terms, but take issue with your "much more expensive agency staff".

Agency staff aren't paid while sick. Nor if not needed. Neither do they get pension or holiday rights; in the public sector the cost of providing pensions is horrendous. If agency staff don't perform, they can be bounced right out the door and replaced.

Public sector pensions involve "employers" contributions (in reality, an open taxpayers' cheque) and so while the employee pays say 6% (less tax relief) there's another 19% - 25% of salary paid into the pension fund. Current low interest and annuity rates and a sluggish economy ensure that almost all final salary pension schemes are in deficit and so more money must be found at some point unless things improve massively. Agency staff don't incur those costs.

I'd rather see more agency staff, and fewer employees, in the public sector.

As for the Police - and along with firemen - their pension arrangements are little short of a national scandal. Assume an 18 year-old who started as a trainee constable and who's on the old scheme of retirement at 50 or 30 years' service. Assuming he stays as a PC all his career, to match his pension with a money purchase type fund would need a fund of well north of the present lifetime allowance. He'll be drawing a defined benefit pension for much longer than he paid into it - and even though the Police pay a higher pension contribution than most, it's still subject to tax relief at the highest rate.

formertory said...

Sorry: "at the highest rate the individual pays"

Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

Weekend Yachtsman beat me to it.

A pal of mine's wife (nurse) operated on a supposedly 6 person team that was effectively half that size due to passengers / parasites that would turn up and make a nuisance of themselves between bouts of "sickness" - which amazingly worked around the statutory rules of employment. "Swinging the lead" barely covers it.

One nearby NHS Trust had a senior manager who was an aggressive alcoholic - he was given a year's paid leave to sort himself out - which didn't happen... he simply gargled more booze.

Anonymous said...

This rather reminds me of where I work, unfortunately. In my case, a fall resulting in damage to my head requiring half a dozen stitches which occurred at 12:00 noon; rest of day kicking about in A & E waiting for stitches, a couple of days off recuperating and waiting for the damage to scab over, then back to work. Granted I looked like Frankenstein's Practice Monster, but I was well enough.

Compare the likes of myself to one of our more notable lead-swingers; took tens of days per annum off for mysterious respiratory conditions, yet was a life-long smoker. Anyone with any brains would have long since seized upon electro-fags as a gift of the gods that permitted a nicotine habit without the poison, but not this twit.

Fortunately for all concerned he is gone now, departed under the auspicices of a staff numbers reduction programme.

Poisonedchalice said...

The ONS nails this down in this graph below. Public sector absenteeism is almost double that of private sector and the self employed stats are even lower still (no surprise).

Coney Island

Cull the Badgers said...

I'd like to put in a word for the poor demoralised buggers who can't stand the politically correct and equality and diversity guff they have to put up with. There must be some who would just like to get on the with job in the old fashioned way but whose brains are hurting, having to put up with the all the crap the get from the top.

Jeff Wood said...

Agency staff are much more expensive for the employer.

As Anon above sees, the best solution is a "staff numbers reduction programme". Disguises the sackings, and probably leaves the outfit more effective and with higher morale.

Anonymous said...

I am minded to think back, and about the lads who came back from the Flanders trenches. A Godawful experience and in many cases an incessant nightmare of flashbacks and of shell shock but they didn't have any counselling, they were expected to get back to it and right away.

Somewhere in between and four generations later, as a race, we are unrecognizable from that of our recent forefathers.

Though, as pointed out above, some are, good lads and lasses, if the shield of political correctness and that blasted wet-blanket thrown over them by the egregious police federation-UNION reps wasn't so stifling, then perhaps we'd have a happier, more hard working, more conscientious police.


Beware, the ambulance chasing lawyers and the H&SE brigades, the SJW and equality&diversity freak show - are just about to conquer the last remaining bastion of masculinity, bravery and hence practicable potency. The Army.

On the rest of the public sector - not much to say but my senses, are of black contempt.

Elby the Beserk said...

It's a public sector malaise. The company I worked for for over 20 years now and again employed workers from the public sector. Their sicky rates were always way above the rest of us; one in a year taking off more time than I had in the previous 15. Colds, not "feeling well", you name it.

Anonymous said...

What about making everyone be employed on a 'self-employed' basis? Arrange their own NI, pension, etc. Would that solve the current malaise?

Anonymous said...

I used to lecture in a former Poly. We had one staff member who went on maternity leave - they always time it to keep out of the way for a full academic year - and I had to take over her whole job as well as mine. Many years later, after she'd finally left, a fuckwit of a Dean re-employed her. This time it wasn't pregnancy (pregnancies - life is too short to explain all) but illness, and fuckadowndilly, I was doing her lecturing again as well as my own. Off for most the academic year, swans in for a couple of days, then absent for months.

The place wouldn't advertise for a replacement while she was still on the payroll, and where do you get people of the right calibre (i.e. 2 or 3 degrees, professional qualification) simply swanning around waiting for a short term maternity or sickness cover contract? (And who are worth employing?)

As for Plod, their pension conditions are extreme. I canvassed a couple of them at the last election - both rabid lefties, insulting about changes to their pension conditions and all the money they would lose. Arseholes, all of them.

pjt said...

Incidentally, PC Bloogs womans-up right in the previous post in by feed view:

Anonymous said...

Takes me back years when I used to be responsible for discipling the long-term (and I mean on the books for two years with no 'lines' coming in) sick in a public sector department. We'd go through the very generous, very lengthy disciplinary procedure, get rid of them only to have them exercise their right to appeal to the elected members who would promptly overturn our decision. Then they'd moan about lack of funding from central government...

I have to say that I thought then that I worked full time; in my present circumstances a 37 hour week, with an hour for lunch and two fifteen min breaks seems unbelievably luxurious but I don't think that I could ever again bear working in the public sector. It's just soul-destroying.

Bill Quango MP said...

The sickness, public and private, is about the same.
But the discipline in the private is fierce.

Its about 10% of the workforce who have extra sickness. of those 10% I believe half are just swinging.

Much of the problem is the HR won't take any risks. If they can be persuaded to let the professional sickie sorters have a crack, often the individual can be booted out.

I was a professional sickie booter for a good few years. from peering through their house windows to the tribunal.

I wish we had had drones in those days. Made life much easier.

Anonymous said...

Working on a large MOD contract we had mostly ex MOD staff and a big issue with Monday and Friday absenteeism. Changing the Ts and CS so that sick pay was only payable after 3 qualifying days cut the sick days by 80% at a stroke. When the unions moaned we pointed out that this was merely the same terms as SSP.

Anonymous said...

When unjustified sick pay is given, it means that there is less available to those genuinely sick. Moreover, the additional workload on those not swinging the lead is unfair.

So Osborne dropped his PIP cull. I saw somewhere that 640,000 people stood to lose their PIP, which struck me as improbable: 1 in 100 of the population not entitled to their payments? Actually, it wouldn't surprise me. No wonder we are up shit creek.

formertory said...

Made Oi Larf when I saw this in the Telegraph, covering the murder of John "Goldfinger" Palmer who's (who was?) apparently the richest crim in the country:

"When police initially attended scene they concluded that Palmer had suffered a heart attack and had died of natural causes.

It was only when a post-mortem examination was carried out that it was discovered he had been shot six times at close range.

Part of stress is making poor judgments based on given data. Perhaps things are as bad as they say!