Cure needed for sick leave

Employee sick leave is proving to be a headache for nearly a quarter of small to medium-sized business owners and managers in the UK, according to research from Bibby Financial Services.

Employee sick leave is proving to be a headache for nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of small to medium-sized business owners and managers in the UK, according to research from Bibby Financial Services.

David Robertson, chief executive of Bibby Financial Services, says: ‘Dealing with such issues is a delicate process for employers and must be done ‘by the book’, which takes a lot of time and consideration.

‘What’s clear from our research is that with so many things going on in a business environment, owners and managers simply don’t have the time to handle everything themselves and important long-term HR issues get left aside for the short-term, quick-fixes.’

Robertson notes that recent figures from the CBI suggest the cost of staff absence to the UK economy rose to over £13 billion in 2005, with as many as 13 per cent of days lost to sickness considered non-genuine by employers – in other words, staff ‘pulling sickies’ – at a cost to the economy of £1.2 billion.

Bibby sought the views of 300 owner managers when conducting the research which also identified other difficult human resources issues that management have to address. This included employee tardiness (20 per cent), staff complaining about colleagues (20 per cent), pay disputes (18 per cent) and even having to intervene when it comes to poor personal hygiene of staff (ten per cent).

With such a varied list of day-to-day HR issues to deal with, the research found that owners and managers are struggling to keep up with legislative changes (33 per cent), deal with difficult members of staff (13 per cent) and find the time to deal with HR issues properly (11 per cent).

However, it appears that it’s not all doom and gloom for owners and managers who may be struggling to deal with staff issues and run a successful business.

Bibby recommends a number of ways for owner managers to detect and prevent absenteeism, such as allowing for flexible working arrangements; being alert to the real reason why employees are not turning up to work; encouraging annual leave; analysing management style; and ensuring appropriate holiday cover has been arranged.

Robertson comments: ‘Many companies are waking up the fact they do not have to go it alone, and can get help and support with a range of difficult business tasks. For example, we are finding increasing numbers of our clients outsourcing non-core areas of their business to the experts, ensuring their business keeps on top of important legislation and gets professional help in dealing with day to day HR issues.’

Adam Wayland

Adam was Editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk from 2006 to 2008 and prior to that was staff writer on sister publication BusinessXL Magazine.

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Sick Leave

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