Lord calls on companies to put more effort into tackling sickness

Employers need to work harder on cutting sickness absence and getting their staff back to work, according to Lord Philip Hunt, parliamentary under secretary for the Department for Work and Pensions.

At Symposium Events’ absence management conference in London last week, Hunt urged delegates to reassess their occupational health contracts.

“It’s simply unacceptable for organisations not to take absence management more seriously,” he said. “Once we start to tackle absence management in a more proactive, holistic way, it can have real impact on staff morale and productivity.”

HR professionals must ensure they have strong leadership support from the top of the organisation to implement effective absence procedures, Hunt said.

HR could then provide practical training and support to line managers to cope with sickness problems.“You’ve got to help line managers deal with absence issues,” said Hunt. “A paper policy isn’t good enough.

”Regular contact with employees who are off sick, and working in conjunction with staff organisations was also important, he added.

Hunt said Dame Carol Black, the government’s first ever national director for health and work, was keen to meet employers and learn about the issues they face.

For more on Black’s appointment, click here

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