Long-term sickness rates alarm manufacturers
by Gill Montia
Story link: Long-term sickness rates alarm manufacturers
New research from the UK manufacturers’ organisation, EEF, indicates that the downward trend in sickness absence rates in the sector has plateaued.
According to the latest EEF/Westfield Health report, the overall rate among manufacturers’ employees remained unchanged in 2011 compared with 2010, at 2.2%, and the average number of working days lost to absence held stead at 5.1 days per employee.
However, EEF members are concerned at a divergence between short and long-term absence rates, with almost 40% of firms questioned seeing an increase in long-term rates last year, mainly as a result of a jump in staff off work due to stress, anxiety and depression.
In addition, the issue of presenteeism (whereby staff turn up for work when unwell) has become a hot topic for discussion, with 55% of companies expressing concerns in this area.
Regarding short-term absences, one third of companies surveyed saw a year-on-year decline in 2011, while the number of employees with no sickness absences increased to 51%, up from 46% in 2010.
Commenting on the findings, EEF chief medical adviser, Professor Sayeed Khan, says: “There are now signs that the wins to reduce short-term absence are being exhausted and we need a fresh approach from government to address the more deep-rooted problems such as stress and back pain.”
Other key findings of the research are as follows:
13% of companies set “stretch” sickness absence targets of below 2% with 70% achieving this target.
72% of companies have more than 40% of employees with zero absence, up from 58% in 2010.
Manual workers have a higher absence rate than non-manual (6.7 days per employee compared to 3.2).
Only 5% of companies surveyed currently monitor the cost of presenteeism.