DEPRESSION, anxiety and stress were the main causes of staff sickness at Hyndburn Council last year.

A report presented to the resources overview and scrutiny committee revealed in 2017/18, the council, with 272 employees, dealt with 74 sickness cases, and 50 formal attendance review meetings were held with 32 employees.

As a result, nine members of staff were issued final improvement notices, and 19 with first improvement notices.

Twenty-two meetings concluded with no action. In addition 23 welfare meetings were held.

Council head of HR, Kirsten Burnett, suggested that while there may be some work-related contributing factors,  absences relating to depression, anxiety and stress were also caused by issues outside the workplace.

She said: "We do our best to make sure staff are well managed, attend work regularly and are as happy as they can be in the context of staffing cuts and low pay rises.

"It is getting more challenging and we are expecting more of our staff.

"Sickness did increase last year but it is still below the average compared to other councils in Lancashire.

"There were some cases of long term absence. We had a small number of employees with pretty significant health problems which meant they had to take a large chunk of time off.

"Some of the councils we are comparing against don't have waste services or large numbers of manual workers where you expect absence levels to be higher.

"The highest number of lost days was for stress, anxiety or depression.

"It is the most common cause for workplace absence and we do quite a lot to address that and support our staff.

"It is very unusual someone goes off work purely because of workplace stress."

Ms Burnett added the council's three-year average was below the target of eight days' absence per employee.

And she said if current levels were maintained, the current year was forecast to finish at 6.4 days per employee.

Employees are also encouraged to take up a variety of activities including boxercise, pilates and rounders in a bid to help their physical and mental wellbeing.

According to council research, 84 per cent of employees reported that they were satisfied with their job.