UK - The £13bn cost to UK business of sickness absence can be reduced by effective risk management, employee benefit experts claim.
A survey by Norwich Union Healthcare found that more than nine million sick notes requested each year in the UK are considered suspicious by doctors, with companies left to foot the bill.
Mercer Human Resource Consulting, which offers employee absence service, Health-connect, said sick days can cost companies the equivalent of 20% of payroll.
Mercer worldwide partner Charles Nelson said absence has a “profound impact” on productivity, yet most employers struggle to get to grips with the problem.
He said: “Managing absence successfully is about getting the right information to the right people at the right time – and making sure it is acted on promptly.
Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development employee relations adviser Ben Willmott said that, with home and family responsibilities a “fairly significant” cause of absence, flexible working hours could help minimise the problem.
Occupational health therapists employed by a company were also seen as a means of combating absence.
Willmot said occupational health therapists are experts on the required fitness for a particular role and can recommend staff, who have been off for long periods, return gradually in a part-time or less demanding role.
Duvet days – a system allowing workers to call in sick two to four days a year with no questions asked – have proved successful in the US in cutting absence.
He said that duvet days are benefits which increase loyalty among staff, making them less likely to “take advantage” by having a high number of unnecessary days off.
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