Management of sickness absence is in a mess

first_img Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article A study has shown companies to be woefully ignorant of the ways to tacklecosts of sicknessThe average employee is off sick for almost seven days each year, and fewcompanies have a clear idea of how much it costs them or ways to tackle theissue, a survey has found. The study by Norwich Union Healthcare suggests the cost to employers acrossthe country of sickness absence could be as much as £39bn. Yet, while three-quarters of companies surveyed by the private medicalinsurer said they had clear procedures in place for managing staff absence,only 25 per cent were confident their procedures were reliable. And only one in 10 regularly assessed the direct cost to their organisationof sickness absence. Incentives such as private medical insurance were often more likely to beoffered to senior staff, where absence levels were lowest, it added. Those under 25 years old and operational or production workers had thehighest absence rates, followed by women, the over-55s and then people aged25-34. The study questioned 87 firms about how they managed employee absence andwhat healthcare benefits they offered. Only 10 said they regularly assessed the direct cost of sickness absence. NorwichUnion Healthcare has estimated the bill is £534 per employee per year,equivalent to 3.1 per cent of the annual payroll or £13bn for all UK companies.Indirect costs brought this up to £39bn, it added. Most absences were short, 54 per cent being off for up to two days, 28 percent for three to five days and 19 per cent for more than six days, but theyoften went unrecorded, the survey found. A total of 95 per cent of the firms surveyed said they had formal policiesor strategies in place for managing absence, but only 3.6 per cent believedtheir policies had a major impact on absence levels. Many firms failed to diagnose causes of absence at an early point. And morethan one in five had no-one in clear responsibility for absence management. Theretail, distribution and leisure sectors emerged as the poorest performers whenit came to managing sickness absence. Counselling can help reduce absence Workplace counselling can help reducesickness absence by between 25 per cent and 50 per cent, delegates at aconference on managing work-life balance heard in September.The conference, by the Teacher Support Network, also heard thatusing employee assistance schemes could save schools and local educationauthorities between £6m and £13m a year in reduced teacher absence.Such schemes offer workers counselling, referral to supportservices and access to specialist legal, health, financial and family advisers. Management of sickness absence is in a messOn 1 Nov 2001 in Personnel Todaylast_img

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