Sick leave is on the increase

Sickness absence rates have increased by more than a third during the last
year, according to the latest research from the Work Foundation.

Its survey of 400 HR professionals reveals that absence rates in 2002 have
risen to 4.1 per cent (or nine days per employee per year) – up from 2.9 per
cent in 2001.

The problem is particularly acute in the public and voluntary sectors, where
the absence rate has more than doubled from 2.9 per cent in 2001, to 7.8 per
cent in 2002.

The new figures reverse the previous downward trend and are the highest
since 1996, when The Work Foundation first began monitoring absence.

Managers believe the most common reasons for absence are cold/flu (59 per
cent), stress/emotional/personal problems (58 per cent) and Monday morning
syndrome (39 per cent.)

Other reasons include sickness of another family member/childcare problems
(36 per cent), the concept of taking sick leave ‘entitlement’ (31 per cent),
and low morale/boring jobs (31 per cent).

Stephen Bevan, the Work Foundation’s deputy director of research, said:
"I think the figures largely reflect a rise in long-term absenteeism
rather than short-term. Issues relating to mental ill health, such as stress,
are one reason for the increase."

More than half of the responding firms offer flexible working. Two-thirds of
these believe that flexible hours help to reduce absence.

Top five reasons for sickness absence

– colds/flu

– stress

– Monday morning blues

– sick day ‘entitlement

– low morale

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