Mental health conditions the most common cause of absence

Posted on 8 Jul 2013

Mental health conditions have emerged as the single most widespread cause of long-term absence from the workplace, according to the initial findings of the CBI/ Pfizer Absence and Workplace Health Survey.

More than half (54%) of employers cited non-work related stress, anxiety and depression as a cause of long-term absence for non-manual workers, and slightly fewer (42%) for manual workers.

It is also the third most common cause of short-term absence, cited by nearly half of employers (46%) of non-manual staff and nearly a third (31%) for manual workers.

Meanwhile, mental illness related to work is the ninth most common cause of long-term absence overall, and the eleventh most common cause of short-term absence.

The full survey will be published later this month. It gathered responses from HR practitioners and managers in 153 organisations across the UK’s public and private sectors.

Neil Carberry, CBI director for employment and skills, said: “Mental health issues are a major cause of absence, so it’s no surprise that nine out of ten businesses are taking positive action to manage mental illness. We need to make sure the health service – through the fit note and new occupational health supports firms in helping staff back into work.”

The survey also found that 92% of organisations operate stress and anxiety management policies, with smaller firms more likely to take an informal approach to this.