Post workers offered prizes to cut sick leave

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The Independent Online

The Royal Mail is offering postmen and women the chance to win cars and holiday vouchers in a scheme designed to cut high rates of absenteeism, it said today.

The Royal Mail is offering postmen and women the chance to win cars and holiday vouchers in a scheme designed to cut high rates of absenteeism, it said today.

Workers who do not take a single day off sick between now and January 31 will be entered into a prize draw and could win one of 34 Ford Focuses or 68 holiday vouchers worth £2,000.

A spokesman admitted that the Royal Mail has high rates of absenteeism and said it is hoped the incentives will tackle a problem which costs the company several million pounds a year.

At any one time, 10,000 staff - or 6.5% of a total workforce of 170,000 - are absent and the average Royal Mail worker is off sick for 12 days every year, compared with a national average of seven.

"We're saying we have got a problem with absenteeism, we want to tackle it and the way we're trying is with a carrot approach," the Royal Mail spokesman said.

"We think the costs of the scheme will be recovered and we think this will help."

He added that the company is also setting up a new scheme of standards for dealing with absenteeism in collaboration with unions.

The Royal Mail is also offering 12 weekend breaks to workers who have good attendance records and who are nominated by their manager.

The deputy secretary of the Communication Workers Union, Dave Ward, dismissed the scheme as a gimmick and said it would not solve the morale problems within the industry.

He said: "Royal Mail needs to be honest.

"It needs to admit it has serious problems that need to be solved.

"Gimmicks won't offer a solution to low morale and stress levels resulting from the physical demands of the job and regimented management styles."

He added that the Royal Mail should work with staff to see how job satisfaction can be improved.

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