Britain’s manufacturers are calling on the government to convene a summit of employers and medics to tackle sickness. The call comes after a survey showed that employers have lost faith that the government’s flagship ‘fit note’ programme is getting people back to work.
The 2013 EEF/Westfield Health Sickness Absence survey, the UK’s largest business survey of sickness absence, suggests improvements in sickness absence seen in recent years have now plateaued.
According to the survey, sickness absence rates have plateaued at 2.2% and 2.3% for 2011 and 2012 respectively, having previously fallen from 3% in 2007. The average number of days lost to absence has shown a minor increase from a low of 5.1 days in 2011 to 5.3 days in 2012. It also showed that the proportion of employees with zero sickness absence rates has also remained static at 51% this year, having risen steadily from just over 40% over the past five years.
More manufacturers are reporting that longer-term sickness absence is increasing (40%) rather than decreasing (24%). After surgery, the key causes of long-term absence remain back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders; and stress and other mental health problems.
The survey found that:
· Only 26% of employers believe that the ‘Fit Note’ has resulted in employees returning to work earlier, compared to 40% who said that they are not.
· More companies disagree (49%) than agree (20%) that the advice given by GPs about employees’ fitness for work has improved. The gap between those who rate the advice positively and those who view it negatively has widened substantially over the past 12 months.
· After employees’ health conditions, GPs are now seen as the second biggest barrier to rehabilitating employees who have been off sick from work.
This material is protected by copyright Ken Hurst 2013.