In plans to tackle short-term absence from work, Cardiff Council has announced that it will not pay staff for the first three days they are off sick.

The Council has 15,246 full and part-time workers and in 2011/12 figures show that they averaged 11.49 days off, which it says cost it more than £15m in sick pay.

The proposals state that following three days unpaid, staff will be eligible for pay on the fourth day if they have “fully complied with sickness reporting arrangements”, while managers who fail to manage sickness absence properly could face disciplinary action.

The policy review and performance scrutiny committee will consider the draft policy before it goes to cabinet on 6 December.

In September 2011, the committee published an inquiry into managing attendance by a task group chaired by Councillor David Walker, and the task group made 19 recommendations from 41 key findings.

Mr Walker, who represents Lisvane and is leader of the authority’s Conservative group, said staff absenteeism figures had been “consistently high” for a number of years at the Council.

David Walker commented:

“The calculation made at the time of the (task group) report was £15.1m, which was based on 11.45 days (average absence rate) in 2010/11.

“Absenteeism peaked in the waste management department in November 2010 at 27 days – that’s five weeks a year.

“In addition to annual leave, which is around five weeks, it means some people are having ten weeks off a year.”

Managing sickness absence is a high priority for the administration according to a Cardiff Council spokeswoman, and she added that it was looking at ways to improve sickness absence levels, saying:

“We have consulted widely with senior managers, service managers, our five staff equality networks, trade unions and scrutiny.”

Commenting on the need for these measures, Mr Walker said:

“There was an inquiry into absenteeism in 2005 and it came up with general solutions, but the problem was not corrected and so a second inquiry last year came up with radical options.

“There are plenty of checks and balances, such as occupational health, to ensure people are being treated properly, but if people take advantage then more dramatic interventions could be available.”

Unions representing council staff have responded by saying that they will fight the plans.