Tough approach reduces sickness absence

Two organisations with new approaches to sickness absence have reduced the
amount of time employees take off sick.

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has sharply reduced sickness
absence levels, shaving an estimated half a million pounds off its £100m a year
wage bill, by taking a tough appr-oach to staff who call in sick.

The average number of days lost per person per year because of sickness
absence among its 2,800 staff is now 8.2, compared with 10 two years ago – a 20
per cent reduction.

Staff who fail to call in sick to their line manager by 10am are not paid
for that day and if they take more than 10 days off sick in a 12-month period,
they are called in to a review meeting and monitored for the next three months.

If the rate does not improve, a warning can be issued and the employee can
ultimately be sacked, but this has yet to happen.

George Bishop, personnel director, said sickness absence policies had always
been in place but were now being acted upon.

"We are not trying to make people come in if they have a broken leg,
malaria or truly have ‘flu, we are trying to make people think ‘I’d better come
into work’ rather than just saying ‘I cannot be bothered’," he said.

Preventative measures have also been tackled. The council buys in OH
services, including counselling from the local trust and has extended this to include
self-referral health checks, back pain clinics and ‘flu jabs.

In a separate, but equally successful move, nuclear fuels group BNFL has
reduced sickness absence at its Preston plant by 25 per cent, saving some

The 1,700 staff at the plant have been offered the chance to win a Ford
Focus in a prize draw if they have not taken a day off sick in the past year.

This meant in the year to October just 3,730 days were lost to sickness,
compared with 4,665 the year before, said a spokesman.

Comments are closed.