Record number of workers take no sickness leave, survey shows

Posted on 14 May 2012

More workers than ever before are taking no days off sick, a new survey finds, but long-term absence is increasing due to higher levels of stress and back pain.

The research, produced by manufacturers’ organisation EEF and Westfield Health, found that the number of employees who take no sickness leave went up to 51% last year compared with 46% in the year before. The highest rate of improvement was recorded among office staff and people performing non manual jobs.

Professor Sayeed Khan, EEF’s chief medical adviser, said: “With our economy still suffering from weak growth, we need to pull every possible lever to improve our economic performance. This includes helping employees to return to health and work as soon as possible. We need a fresh approach from government to address deep-rooted problems such as stress and back pain.”

Almost three in four companies saw 40% of their staff take no illness-related time off – it was 58% in 2010. At the same time, 40% of firms lament a rise in long-term sickness leave.

The survey also found that almost 30% of employers find the fit note, which has now been in operation for two years, more helpful than the previous sick note.

Paul Shires, Westfield Health executive director, commented: “Encouragingly, the results show a decline in short-term absence, particularly among those companies which are being proactive in managing sickness absence and are implementing measures such as health insurance. However, as the survey shows overall sickness absence has plateaued and stress-related absenteeism has grown, it is clear that more needs to be done to aid and assist employers with their healthcare needs.”


Photo by Luke Jones