are reacting in a hysterical way to the problem of sickness absence.
CBI’s recent survey of more than 500 organisations suggesting that sickness
absence has risen by 6 per cent to 7.2 days uses dubious, impressionistic
research to make hugely over-stated claims about the depth of the problem.
Meanwhile, Tesco’s much lauded new policy of withholding sick pay for the first
three days is setting employment protection back by decades. And, if it is true
that 15 per cent of sick leave is not genuine as is claimed, then Tesco is
impoverishing the 85 per cent of its staff whose sickness is genuine.
hysteria about sick leave is not put into context. It fails to take into
account the fact that many employers, such as accountants, still have their work
waiting for them when they return, meaning that productivity is not affected by
short term sick leave. The statistics on lost productivity do not take into
account the fact that many people go to work when they sick. And, most
importantly, the real issue for employers is long term sick leave, not the odd
Today, July 2004
By Richard Reeves