Employers call for action on absenteeism

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.


About Ken Hurst

Ken Hurst began his career as a journalist in London over 30 years ago, working on a range of publications before moving on to weekly newspaper production in the newly-independent Zambia of the 1970s. He returned to the UK where his work included spells on newspapers and magazines, before moving to head up Norwich Union’s corporate affairs division. In the 1990s he moved on to freelance, co-own and publish the B2B audio magazine Sound and front the BBC radio Yesterday’s Papers programme. There followed six years as Business Editor at Britain’s biggest selling regional daily newspaper, The Eastern Daily Press, where he led an award-winning team and for whom he still writes a weekly socio/political comment column. Subsequently, he was Group Editorial Director at CBM, responsible for its UK and US magazine output – including The Manufacturer magazine – research-driven industry reports and live events content. Currently he is Contributing Editor at Works Management magazine publisher Findlay Media and Chairman of the consumer publishing house TNT Multimedia Ltd. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and of the British Association of Communicators in Business.
This entry was posted in employment law, Government/statistics, Manufacturing management, People and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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