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Long-term sick leave remains a top concern for employers, with mental ill-health a major cause, according to research from manufacturers’ organisation EEF and Jelf Employee Benefits.

Length of absences down

Findings from the study revealed that two-fifths of companies reported an increase in long-term sick leave although the overall duration of sickness absence has declined to 5.1 days.

Back pain and musculoskeletal disorders remain the main causes of sick leave, but stress and mental ill-health were the primary reasons for absence in one in four firms.

The results have led to growing calls for employers to tackle the rising number of absences related to stress and mental health conditions.

Professor Sayeed Khan, Chief Medical Adviser at EEF commented that without tackling the root cause of sick leave absences they will continue to affect the economy and efforts by organisation to improve productivity and growth.

He added that the increase in stress and mental health conditions over the past five years was a particular concern but warned that this form of absence was the most difficult to make workplace adjustments for.

Workforce Management the key

To minimise the impact of sick leave it is critical to start monitoring your workforce.

Employers need to consider how workforce management systems can help managers to identify absences as soon as they occur and drill down to the root cause of the absence before it impacts the business.

Integrated workforce management solutions provide the functionality to enforce Absence Management policies with consistency by using clearly defined trigger points, Bradford Factor calculation and alerts to highlight managers of unauthorised absences.

By using prompts tailored to the business policy, managers are able to track the duration of each absence and implement procedures, such as fit note requests, medical certificate requests, sick pay payment and return to work interviews, fairly and consistently across the organisation.

Return to Work emphasis

Early identification of the absence allows managers to initiate a conversation with the individual to discuss the reason for the absence or sick leave and support their return to work.

It may be that the employee has an underlying medical condition which requires treatment, sensitive issues at home which they kept to themselves or responsibilities away from work which they must attend to.

Only by placing emphasis on the health and wellbeing of the individual can you help to minimise the duration of the absence.



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