EEF comments on sickness absence data

Posted on 23 Feb 2011 by The Manufacturer

The Office for National Statistics has published figures on sickness absence in the labour market today, finding that its incidence has returned to pre-recession levels.

Before the onset of the downturn, 2.5 per cent of employees in the Labour Force Survey had had at least one day off sick in the week before they were interviewed. This figure fell to a record low point of 2.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2009 but was back to 2.5 per cent by the last quarter of 2010.

Commenting on the figures on Sickness Absence from the ONS, EEF head of health & safety policy Steve Pointer said: “These figures illustrate that Sickness Absence remains a significant issue for businesses. As well as costing business around £15bn a year with the cost to taxpayers being several times this, these costs reduce competitiveness and hamper growth.

“Last week’s announcement of an independent review is a welcome sign that the coalition is taking this issue seriously. We now need to build on this by moving rapidly to delivering change that reduces the cost to business and supports much-needed growth. EEF surveys consistently show time is lost waiting for tests, operations and therapies which are a major barrier to rehabilitation and cause of long term sickness.”

EEF has recommended the Review address the following key issues:
• Private treatment to speed up rehabilitation is not treated as a taxable benefit as it is now.
• A continued emphasis on faster access to NHS services and ensuring that NHS reforms do not compromise this.
• A continued emphasis on training of and support for GPs, on taking account of work related needs and use of the fit note.