Sickness Absence on the Decline

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A joint survey carried out by the manufacturing organisation EEF and Insurer, Westfield Health, has revealed that sickness absence between 2007 and 2010 is following a downward trend. The average employee took 5 days’ sickness absence in 2010 compared with 6.7 days in 2007. An all time high of 45% of employees took no days off at all during 2010. The survey revealed that there was a clear correlation between falling absence rates and those companies that had strategies in place to train managers in how to handle sickness absence and tight absence targets. More than two-thirds of the companies are now achieving their targets compared with only half in 2007. Those companies who have trained their managers are one-third more likely to reduce their sickness absence. Sayeed Khan, EEF chief medical adviser, said: "The continued downward trend in sickness absence is welcome recognition of efforts by companies and government to get people back to work. In particular, it is striking that the companies that have proactively contacted their GPs to discuss adjusting people’s working arrangements have seen the highest level of response. "It is also clear that doing the basics, such as training line managers and GPs in managing sickness absence, pays dividends. If we are to see the trend continuing to improve and the economic benefit to the UK economy this brings, it is vital that government continues to fund the training of GPs in health and work issues." Jill Davies, chief executive of Westfield Health, said: "The workforce is an employer’s most valuable asset and the falling sickness absence rates show that the right steps are being taken to continue this positive trend – but there is still plenty to be done. "As a health insurance provider, we were particularly encouraged to see that companies are using some form of health insurance scheme to tackle absence rates. We envisage this trend continuing as providers develop benefits which complement the NHS in areas where provision is limited or unavailable, while also offering highly relevant health plans for businesses to negate the impact of sickness absence."

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