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Employment Expert: Study Shows Benefits Of Tackling Sickness

Workers 'Taking Less Days Off With Illness'


Research which shows the number of sick days being taken by workers in the UK has fallen demonstrates how firms are benefitting from policies and procedures designed to tackle the issue of absence, according to an employment expert at Irwin Mitchell.

New figures have revealed that the average employee took five days a year off as sick leave in 2010, which marks a fall of 1.7 days from 2007. In addition, it was found that 45 per cent of workers did not take any days off sick over last year.

The study also highlighted that falling absence rates tended to be seen at firms which have specific policies in place to train up managers in relation to sickness absence.

According to Ed Cotton, a Partner and employment specialist at Irwin Mitchell’s Manchester office,  most firms have actively made it a priority to consider how they can take cost out of their operations in light of the difficult economic climate.

He explained: “While many employers have initially reduced their workforce to a minimum, they are now focussing on the reduction of sickness absence as a way of taking cost out of the business.

“Training managers and putting procedures in place to deal with sickness absence is now essential and it has been proven that basic steps such as face-to-face return to work meetings after any period of absence can have a marked impact on reducing further instances.

“In addition to such policies, we’ve also seen some employers introduce incentives designed to reduce sickness absence, with one even going as far as giving away a car!”

Ed added that, as well as a change in attitude from employers in difficult times, a number of workers have also reconsidered their own mindset.

“During the last few years the number of redundancies has increased and sickness absence is often used by organisations in redundancy selection criteria,” he outlined.

“Many employees are mindful of this which may account to some extent for the reduction in sickness absence.”