FEWER sick days are being taken by Dorset County Council staff compared with other local councils. Latest figures show staff took just under eight days of sick leave a year – compared to 10.5 for all local government workers. Paul Loach, HR business partner, said the figures had been helped by a drop in long-term sickness, down by a third in some departments. He told the council’s staffing committee that some of this was due to better management when people returned to work and the help offered by the council’s ‘wellbeing’ team and health and safety advisers. But he said there were occasions when there were no options left – apart from dismissal. In the third quarter of 2017-18 a total of 19 employees left their jobs due to medical incapability plus five ill health retirements. This compares with 15 medical incapability dismissals and four ill health retirements for the previous 12 month period ending in the second quarter of 2017/18. Six of the staff to leave came from children’s services, all due to medical incapability; five from the Dorset Waste Partnership and four from economy and environment. Mr Loach said that mental health was often cited as a reason for leaving work. “ It’s easy to think that employment is the only reason, but it isn’t, often it is factors around the home, or other worries outside the workplace," he said. He said that anonymous data, provided by counsellors, revealed that two-thirds of stress related problems were primarily personal. In some areas lost work days were cause by physical problems – especially for those on bin rounds and passenger assistants who often suffered problems because of the need to physically help people on and off vehicles.