JOB CUTS may be to blame for a sharp rise in stress-related sick leave taken by Civic Centre staff, it has been warned.
Council workers took nearly as many days off due to stress or mental health problems in the first nine months of this financial year as they did in the whole of 2010/11, figures obtained by the Chronicle reveal.
A total of 2,613 working days were lost for those reasons between April and December 2011 - only 42 fewer than in the whole of the previous year, according to statistics obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
In just two years since April 2010, the total number of council staff has fallen by nearly 11 per cent from 3,141 to 2,799.
Hounslow Unison branch secretary Gavin Mott said he was worried remaining staff were being put under too much pressure because they were expected to take on an increased workload.
"We're not at all surprised to see the amount of stress leave on the rise," he told the Chronicle.
"The coalition-driven cuts agenda is resulting in increased workloads for those staff who remain.
"We will be contacting the employer to see what we can do in order to map stress among workers and identify those groups who are worst affected."
A council spokesman said: "Between 2008 and 2011, absences for stress and mental health issues fell by 31 per cent, and the potential slight increase this year does not reflect the longer term picture.
"Also, the figures don’t allow any distinction between work-related or other causes of stress, so to say this slight increase is due to an increased work load is pure speculation."
A total of 19,930 sick days were taken by council staff in the first nine months of 2011/12, compared with 25,487 in the whole of the previous year and 25,095 during 2009/10.
Stress and anxiety was the most common reason given this year, behind 'musculo-skeletal' problems.