Ceredigion County Council will not make it a requirement for staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19 unless there is a Welsh Government mandate to do so.

The question was raised as members of the corporate resources discussed a sickness absence report at its meeting on Thursday (January 13).

Cllr Rowland Rees-Evans said that some private sector companies had pushed for staff vaccination and asked if the council would do similar, being told that a “directive from Welsh Government” would be awaited.

Cllr Keith Evans said that although the private sector may have taken these steps he believed the varied nature of council work meant he could not see it happening in the public sector.

Corporate lead officer for people and organisation Geraint Edwards told councillors where there was a concern was in care homes “where there’s an expectation on staff” but the UK Government had postponed implementing measures.

Mr Edwards said: “There are no requirements on staff and that I would suggest it would need to be introduced by Welsh Government. If it was going to apply anywhere is would likely be in our residential homes but I note that the UK Government have announced a delay in their proposal to insist of NHS staff being vaccinated.”

The committee heard that there had been a reduction in long term sickness among the authority’s staff since 2017-18 when it was at the highest rate in Wales, and there was now to be a focus on reducing short term absences.

Mr Edwards said that on Friday, January 7, there were 180 staff off sick, five per cent of all staff, and of those 72 were off due to Covid-19 related illness, which was two per cent of the workforce.

The committee acknowledged the change in work life due to the pandemic, with many “managing to do a bit of work” even if feeling unwell in some cases as they were working at home and also many staff had seen an increase in workload that needed to be addressed.

The council appointed a employee health and well-being officer in November 2019 and “this role has proved invaluable in supporting employees at every level throughout the past two years, but especially during the pandemic,” a report to committee states.

Support is provided to help keep staff in work using well-being discussions, resilience sessions, stress management and well-being emails and webinars, as well as dedicated support for frontline staff.