Work-life balance is key in cutting workplace absence

Workers take fewer days off sick if their company makes an effort to look after their home as well as their workplace life, research has suggested.

Flexible working hours, being generous when it comes to compassionate leave, and giving staff the option to work from home, all help to cut down on absenteeism, a survey by the body Employee Advisory Resource has found.

The survey, In Sickness and In Health, was launched in April 2005 to coincide with a conference run by the organisation Working Families.
The study of 52 organisations calculated that sick days cost the economy 11.6bn a year, or 476 for each worker in the country.

Due to their close-knit environments, smaller firms were often more able to tackle the issue head-on, and adopt a more open culture in tackling problems such as stress.

Spokesman Olivier Bouley said: “Employers attempting to address this issue have used a variety of tactics, ranging from strict new policies to trying to understand and remove the reasons that can cause employees to go absent.”

Many firms were cracking down on ‘malingerers’, with some even hiring private investigators to check on staff.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “Employers who treat their staff with respect and offer help, such as flexible working, will get the most from their workforce.”

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