TIME taken off work for illnesses by Darlington Borough Council staff is more than double the national average for workers, a study has found.

While the latest Government figures show 4.3 days absence per worker, staff at the authority reported being ill for an average of 9.22 days last year, a reduction of half a day from 2016/17.

A report to the efficiency and resources scrutiny committee states the highest absence levels were in adult services, with staff reporting sick for an average of 14.74 days. Stress continues to be the most common reason for absence at the authority, accounting for 28.9 per cent of all absence in 2017/18 compared to 26.4 per cent in 2016/17.

A spokesman for the council, which offers counselling and physiotherapy for workers, said it had introduced wellbeing events and occupational health briefs for staff, a flexi-time policy to address absence rates and would give adult services front line officers laptops to reduce pressure and enable a better work life balance.