Sickness absence down but employers must do more

Sickness absence is at its lowest recorded level with the average number of days taken off work due to illness or injury down to 4.3 days per worker per year.

The figures for 2016, which were compiled by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), show that nationally 137.3 million working days were lost due to sickness absence.

Of those days lost, the main contributors were coughs and colds (34 million days) and musculoskeletal problems such as back or neck pain (30.8 million), followed by mental health related issues (15.8 million).

The groups who experienced the highest rates of sickness absence were women, older workers, people with long term health problems, smokers, public sector workers and those working in large organisations.

Peterlee Business Park–based recruitment specialist, GEM Premium People, monitors statistics and reports that are relevant to their sector and the clients they support.

Operations Director, Maria Miller, said: “These statistics make for very interesting reading, as they give a clear picture of what contributes to sickness absence; the complaints which prevent people coming into work, the gender and age range of the people most likely to call in sick, and the professions where employees take the most time off.

“Absence due to illness or injury costs companies millions of pounds very year, so if we can make changes within the workplace which might help reduce the number of days unnecessarily lost, it will have a significantly positive impact at all levels of business.

“The statistics could also help businesses to develop policies that aim to provide effective support to workers which could see a reduction in the 137.3 million days lost in 2016.”

The ONS report also showed the North East region to be the third biggest contributor to the UK figure, behind only Scotland and Wales.

Maria added: “Clearly as a region we need to be doing more to reduce absence in the workplace so it’s an area GEM is looking at as part of the support we offer our clients.”


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