STAFF sick days are costing Argyll and Bute Council more than £3m a year.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act also reveal that sick days taken in the area rose by more than 25 per cent in the 12 months to July 1, 2017.

A total of 50,749 sick days were taken in that period compared to 39,996 in the previous year.

That took the total cost to the council through the £3m barrier, with the final figure for 2016/17 being £3,188,712.

Previously the authority had been hit by costs of £2,982,056 (2015/16), £2,933,585 (2014/15) and £2,791,401 (2013/14) for sick days taken by staff.

The number of days taken in those years were 39,996, 47,879 and 45,867 respectively.

The figures supplied by the council in response to the FOI request equate to the value of time lost to absence, and are not additional cost to the authority.

An Argyll and Bute Council spokesperson said: “Local authorities across Scotland are all experiencing a rise in sickness absence – something we are taking very seriously.

“The health and wellbeing of our workforce is a priority.

“We have put different kinds of support in place to help employees in delivering the services local people use.

“These include an employee counselling service, referrals to occupational health specialists and a stress reduction policy.”