Figures obtained by the Belfast Telegraph show that there were 3,603 cases of staff absences due to self-isolation from February 2020 to March 2021.
Stormont’s largest department, the Department for Communities (DfC), saw 1,609 occurrences where a staff member was absent due to self-isolation out of its 6,951 employees. This represents around 23% of DfC’s workforce.
The highest proportion of absences was in the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) at almost 30%. DfI employs 2,973 workers and registered 884 occurrences of absences due to Covid.
Questions: Roy Beggs said there will have been a variety of reasons for the leave
At just less than 2%, the Department of Health had the lowest proportion of self-isolation absences. The department employs 498 civil servants and had only nine off due to self-isolation throughout the pandemic.
Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs, a deputy Chair of Stormont’s Public Accounts Committee, said there will have been a variety of reasons for leave.
“Some may have wanted to shield, some parents may have had to stage at home to mind young children unable to go to school,” he said.
“However, what is very strange is the vastly different numbers and proportion of staff seeking leave in each department and further clarification should be made to account for this.”
People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll said the fact that almost 16% of workers employed by government departments have had to self-isolate through the Covid crisis “shows you how much they have been placed at risk from Stormont’s shambolic handling of the pandemic.”
“Although this figure would likely be underestimating the true figures for workers across our society, as it includes health workers who are employed by the department but not the trusts, nor do the figures include those working in retail or the private sector throughout the pandemic,” he added.
“From forcing workers back into workplaces too soon, to adopting a reckless ‘living with Covid’ strategy, the Executive’s approach has put workers and as a result their families directly at risk.
“The pattern throughout the last year was that when cases were declining but still circulating in our community, ministers decided it was a wise idea to lift restrictions and put people back into work, often in places were social distancing was difficult.
“Despite talks of learning lessons from Covid and respecting frontline workers the message hasn’t been followed through in the actions of Stormont ministers. Still people struggle to afford to socially isolate when they need to do so on the meagre financial assistance that exists.”
Separate figures also show how many staff were absent directly due to contracting Covid.
From April 1 to December 2020, of the 22,936 civil servants at Stormont, a total of 854 were diagnosed with coronavirus.
The DfC had 351 workers test positive, while the Department of Justice saw 148 employees absent due to Covid and DfI recorded 113. The PPS had the fewest absences directly due to Covid at five, followed closely by the Executive Office with seven.
Stormont departments are already dealing with staffing issues, with around 4,500 vacancies across the workforce at present.
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Articles may come from parliamentary reports, various public news feeds and Google News Search. Content is republished here for context. Copyright is respected and remains with the original author at all times. Original Article:https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/health/coronavirus/16-of-civil-service-staff-self-isolated-during-the-pandemic-40263004.html