No cost to council if private firm fails to cut sick levels

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City chiefs say that a new pilot scheme where staff have to call a private firm and speak to a nurse to report illness will cost the council nothing if it fails to improve sickness rates.

A controversial pilot scheme used for 1100 staff within the health and social care and services for communities departments sees staff that want to take a day off sick have to call in to private firm FirstCare.

Concerns were raised during a council meeting about how much it has cost the council to bring in FirstCare for the 12-month-long pilot scheme. Philip Barr, head of human resources at the city council, said: “Yes there is a cost but only if they reduce sickness absence levels by 10 per cent. If they do not do that we do not have to pay a penny.”

Trade unions had raised concerns about the introduction of the scheme without their approval, but Mr Barr said: “I do not think what we have done is wrong and it has been used by other councils.”