Employee absence falls but back-to-work scheme failing to deliver

That’s the conclusion of research released today by EEF, the manufacturers organisation and Jelf Employee Benefits.

It found that absences had fallen to 2.1 per cent, equivalent of 4.9 sick days per employee per year.

But it also found that long term absence has increased among two fifths of employers in the last two years. Mental illness and stress were cited as a key cause of this.

Commenting, Professor Sayeed Khan, chief medical adviser at EEF said: “Driving down absence rates, helping more employees return to work earlier and, encouraging their wellbeing is critical for our economy.

“But, despite employers increasing investment in managing sickness absence and, providing their employees with more health related benefits, the improvement in overall absence rates has more or less now plateaued.”

The survey found that just 24 per cent of employers thought the “fit note” scheme, under which doctors are asked to assess whether an employee was ready to return to work, has a positive impact, whilst 40 per cent said it didn’t.

Khan added: “From now on the focus has to be on reducing long term absence which is only going to happen if we up our game. This must start by making the ‘Fit Note’ work so that it can make real inroads on delivering the objective of reducing unnecessary sickness absence.”

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