THE NUMBER of driving examiners taking sick days has more than doubled over the last four years in Scotland leading for calls to improve their working conditions.
The figures released under a Freedom of Information act also revealed that examiners in Scotland took more sick dasy due to stress than those in London.
Since 2013, the overall number of examiners taking sick days due to stress has increased across the UK, with the exception of one area.
According to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), an executive agency of the UK Department for Transport who released the statistics, 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 10 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 examiners signed off in 2017, five less than Scotland despite having a larger population by about 3.5 million.
Although in the previous year in London, 39 had taken sick days, while in 2013 the level was only at 16.
The South of England has also seen a significant rise in the same four year period, going up from 15 to 24.
The only area to buck increasing trend was central England which seen the number of examiners going-off with stress drop by just one from 2013 going from 13 down to 12 in 2017.
Although in 2016 the area did increase to 31 examiners taking days off before dropping again.
Neil Greig, Director of Policy and Research at road safety charity IAMRoadSmart has said that the rising stress levels of examiners is an issue.
He 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% 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.”
DVSA’s Director of People, Communications and Engagement, Adrian Long, said: “We want to make DVSA a great place to work.
“We will help staff to recognise and prevent workplace stress and help them to manage it by early recognition and appropriate intervention.
“Our wellbeing plan includes a focus on mental health. This year we have increased the support available as we introduce mental health first aiders across DVSA and support greater access to our employee assistance programme.”
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 didn’t go far enough and represents a missed opportunity for making the roads safer.