Employers believe 16% of sickness absence is faked, but one-quarter of firms don’t keep annual records

One-quarter of UK employers do not record their annual employee absence rate, new research has found.

A survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) questioning 819 UK-based HR professionals found that employers believe that 16% of absence is not genuine.

The CIPD annual Absence Management survey also found that the average level of working time lost to employee absence increased for the first time in two years to 3.7% compared to 3.5% in 2006, and at a cost of £659 per employee per year.

Worryingly, four in 10 respondents said that stress-related absence increased in the previous year, while only 9% of respondents reported a decrease in stress-related absence.

One-third of respondents attributed high workloads as the main contributor to work-related stress, followed by management style (16%) and organisational change (14.3%).

Ben Willmott, employee relations adviser at the CIPD, called for better effective people management from employers. He said: “To avoid an increase, a balance has to be struck between providing support and providing a robust absence management process.

“Employers need to monitor and measure both long- and short-term absence effectively so that they can take action early and provide support by individuals condition deteriorates to the point they go on long-term sick leave,” he added.

Work and pensions minister Lord McKenzie recently announced a new ‘vocational rehabilitation’ group, made up of business, government, workers and insurers, to identify why 175 million working days and £13bn are lost to sickness absence each year,  and urged employers to do more to support staff.

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