One employer in four (26%) has seen an increase in staff being off sick compared to a year ago, according to a poll for the conciliation service Acas.
Acas commissioned YouGov to ask employers in September if they had seen any changes to the number of employees being off sick compared to 12 months ago.
The online survey of 1,007 adults found that:
- More than a quarter (26%) of employers had seen an increase in sickness absence, with 7% reporting a “significant” increase
- Just one in 10 (9%) had seen a decrease
- More than half (56%) said the number of staff off sick had roughly stayed the same
- Around a tenth (9%) did not know
Acas has used the findings to remind employers of the importance of having an absence policy in place, especially one that is clear about what is expected from both employers and employees if staff need time off work.
The service recommends that an absence policy should include (and these are all things occupational health can advise or lead on):
- How to report absences and keep in touch – this includes who the employee should contact and when
- What support is available for staff during absences and when they return to work
- When the employee needs to get a fit note
- How much the employee will be paid and for how long
- What to do if someone needs time off for reasons related to a disability
Acas chief executive Susan Clews said of the findings: “Workplaces are handling a wide variety of staff illnesses at the moment such as a rise in flu and Covid cases as well as the ongoing impact of long Covid.
“Staff may want to know about their workplace rights if they are off sick and businesses will want to ensure they remain productive and stay within the law.
“Handling sickness absences effectively can help to prevent any unnecessary disputes at work. Employers should have a clear absence policy that covers the basics such as sick pay, fit notes, how staff should report any absences and keep in touch,” Clews added.