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Tensions in local government employment relationships The case of long-term sickness absence : The case of long-term sickness absence

Cunningham, I.R. and James, P. and Dibben, P. (2006) Tensions in local government employment relationships The case of long-term sickness absence : The case of long-term sickness absence. Public Management Review, 8 (2). pp. 207-225. ISSN 1471-9037

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Abstract

A wide variety of initiatives characterized under the umbrella term of new public management have been introduced over the past two decades to improve efficiency and cost-effectiveness in the public sector. The implications of these initiatives for public sector employment relationships have been the subject of on-going debate. This article contributes to this debate through examining how employees within local authorities are managed in a time of personal crisis with a particular focus on long-term sickness absence in the context of increased management drives for efficiency under the NPM agenda. The findings reveal that for managers in two local authorities that form the focus of this study there is a tension in struggling to achieve a workable balance between the needs of employees and wider operational requirements, resulting in role ambiguity for line managers and detrimental effects for vulnerable public service workers.