Calls to address sickness absence

The government is being urged to reinvigorate its efforts to tackle sickness absence.

Manufacturers’ organisation EEF made the call on the back of publication of the EEF/Westfield Health 2012 annual sickness absence report, which includes the UK’s largest private sector business survey of sickness absence.

The overall sickness absence rate remains unchanged from 2010 (2.2 per cent), while the average working days lost to absence has shown a marginal increase from five days per employee to 5.1 days.

The issue of presenteeism is now being discussed significantly with 55 per cent of companies expressing concerns in regard to short-term illness and unmotivated employees. However, only 5 per cent of companies currently monitor the cost of presenteeism.

EEF chief medical adviser, Professor Sayeed Khan says, ‘With our economy still suffering from weak growth we need to pull every possible lever to improve our economic performance. This includes helping employees to return to health and work as soon as possible.

‘There are now signs that the wins to reduce short-term absence are being exhausted and we need a fresh approach from government to address the more deep-rooted problems such as stress and back pain.’

Khan adds that the government must now implement the fit note culture, through the training of all doctors and support companies that invest in rehabilitation, with companies needing to ensure the fit note works for them.

Almost 60 per cent of companies say the fit note has made no difference to their business, a statistic that the EEF believes emphasises that more effort needs to be made to ’embed’ this culture if it is to succeed, including the introduction of the electronic fit note as soon as possible.

See also: Employee health costs businesses one month a year in lost productivity – New research reveals the impact of employee ill health on business, with many businesses losing up to one month a year in lost productivity.

Alan Dobie

Alan Dobie

Alan was assistant editor at Vitesse Media Plc (previous owner of before moving on to a content producer role at Reed Business Information. He has over 17 years of experience in the...

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Absence and Absenteeism