European employers offer incentives to encourage staff to take fewer sick days

One-quarter of European employers now offer incentives to encourage staff to take fewer sick days, according to a survey.

The study of 382 employers in 16 European countries by Mercer Human Resource Consulting found a mix of incentives, such as vouchers and bonuses, were used.

But some employers – particularly those in the UK – are concerned that they may increase ‘presenteeism’ among those who are genuinely ill.

Steve Clements, principal at Mercer, said: “Some employers believe that by offering incentives to reduce absence, they are encouraging employees who are genuinely sick to attend work.

“Many also struggle with the notion of rewarding employees for doing what is expected of them – that is, to work when they are fit to do so.”

To help reduce the risk of employees being absent due to ill health, almost half of the respondents (49%) promote health initiatives and benefits in their organisation. Among these employers, health screening is the most popular initiative, with 60% offering access to this service.

Employers have varying opinions on how much employee absence is due to genuine ill health. The survey found that more than one-quarter of respondents believes less than 20% of staff absence is sickness related.

Mercer is conducting a European web briefing on 24 April to discuss the survey findings.

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