Stress and sickness taking toll on driving instructors

Many don't return to work after suffering from stress.
Many don't return to work after suffering from stress.
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The number of driving examiners taking sick days has more than doubled over the past four years in Scotland.

The number of driving examiners taking sick days has more than doubled over the past four years in Scotland.

Figures released under Freedom of Information laws also reveal that examiners north of the Border took more sick days due to stress than those in London last year.

Since 2013, the overall number of examiners taking leave due to stress has increased across the UK, with the exception of one area.

According to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), 377 examiners have taken days off due to stress across the UK since 2013. A total of 26 did not return to work following their absence.

The figures show that ten examiners in Scotland went off with stress in 2013 while in 2017 the amount had more than doubled to 22.

However, in 2016 the number taking sick leave was up to 30, following a similar trend across the rest of the UK. London had 17 signed off in 2017, five fewer than Scotland despite having a larger population by about 3.5 million.

Neil Greig, director of policy and research at road safety charity IAMRoadSmart, has said: “We are concerned that driving examiners in Scotland appear to be suffering from high levels of stress compared to other areas and we would urge employers and staff to work together to improve the working environment for examiners.

“With a fail rate of around 50 per cent the test is clearly still a stressful experience for all concerned and learners could help a lot by arriving for the test better prepared.”

The union which represents driving examiners has hit out at the figures and say that they are concerned over workloads. A Public and Commercial Services (PCS) spokesperson said: “These figures for stress related sick leave for driving examiners are very worrying. PCS has been raising concerns over workloads and working practices for many years.

“Recently members were involved in two days of strike action against the DVSA over the issue of working time.

“This dispute still continues and it’s about time the DVSA and ministers in the Department for Transport took this issue seriously.”

Adrian Long of the DVSA said: “We will help staff to recognise and prevent workplace stress and help them to manage it by early recognition and appropriate intervention.”

Last month examiners went on strike for two days against changes to the exam, which they claim will see them working longer for no extra pay. Thousands of tests were cancelled as a result of the strike.

And GEM Motoring Assist road safety officer Neil Worth said that the changes to the test did not go far enough and represents a missed opportunity to improve road safety.