CONCERNS have been raised about stress levels within the Inverclyde Council workforce.

A report has now been ordered on how the local authority has supported its staff through the pandemic.

Council leader Stephen McCabe requested that officials outline how they have helped staff cope with the impact of the outbreak over the past year, after a survey by Unison highlighted the mental strain the crisis had placed on many of its members.

More than 12,000 people including school support staff and social workers responded to the consultation, with eight in 10 saying their stress levels had risen over the last 12 months.

Almost half said their increase in stress was 'substantial'.

More than a quarter said they had sought professional help for their mental health.

The survey also indicated six in 10 employees had to do more work than usual and more than a third said they had lost annual leave due to work pressure.

Councillor McCabe highlighted the statistics at the latest full council meeting and officers have now agreed to compile a report in the coming weeks, clarifying how they have helped workers and what support will be in place as the district seeks to recover from the pandemic.

Councillor McCabe said: “Unison issued a report based on a survey it did of its membership on the impact of the pandemic.

“I know we’ve had some information previously about how we are supporting the workforce.

"I think it would be useful to have a report on the survey, and how we intend to continue to support the workforce.”

Steven McNab, head of organisational development, human resources and communication, replied: “I’d be delighted to do that.

"We have taken forward a number of actions and strategies to assist employees and have worked closely with the trade unions.”

As of April 12, the absence rate within Inverclyde Council stood at six per cent.

Other findings from the Unison survey included four in employees 10 saying there had been no change in the level of support provided to them compared to pre-Covid, with just over a quarter reporting a reduction.

Forty-five per cent said they'd had to adapt to working from home or carrying out alternative duties to assist with the pandemic response.

Just under a fifth had suffered a bereavement as a result of the virus, with 81 per cent of these workers saying they took no time off to deal with their loss and 72 per cent saying they received no support from their employer.

Councillor McCabe said it was vital elected members were comfortable in the knowledge employees were getting the support they required from local authority chiefs.

He added: “The past year has been extremely challenging for all of us and the Unison report highlights the experiences of many council staff during this period.

“I am very grateful for the way our employees responded to the pandemic, with so many of them going above and beyond to support the community.

“It is important that as employers we councillors seek assurances from management that the council, in turn, is providing the necessary support to our staff to cope with the challenges they personally have faced.”