ANOTHER 191 Fife Council workers took voluntary redundancy last year as the local authority’s workforce continued to reduce.

The headcount at the end of the 2017-18 financial year was 17,399 – it’s been a downward trend since 2009-10 when there were 20,017 employees.

The annual workforce report also revealed that 21 per cent of working days lost was down to stress and 15 workers were dismissed due to their performance.

Sharon McKenzie, head of HR, said that the council “has continued to face financial pressures” and there were a number of “recruitment difficulties”.

However she said Audit Scotland had recognised that Fife was “improving its organisational culture” and that there was an “effective” strategy in place to lower absence levels.

Ms McKenzie also pointed out that there had been no compulsory redundancies in 2017-18, the gender pay gap had narrowed and the percentage of females in the top five percent of earners had risen.

The number of council employees dropped to 17,399 from 17,471 in 2016-17 and almost half are in the education and children’s services, which covers schools. There were 22 early retirements in 2017-18.

The average number of working days lost (per full time equivalent) increased to 11.82, the figure for teachers was 6.64 days and for other staff it was 13.44 days.

Stress accounted for 21 per cent while musculoskeletal problems – typically an injury to bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments or nerves – was to blame in 28 per cent of cases and the percentage of working days lost to ‘long term’ issues was 68 per cent.

There were 175 disciplinary cases, down from 229 the previous year, with 15 disciplinary / performance dismissals and 29 grievance cases – of which three were upheld or partially upheld.