Recent research by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) revealed that the government introduced ‘fit notes’ scheme had not delivered less instances of employee absence through unwarranted ‘sickies.’
The CBI’s Absence and Workplace Health Survey discovered that in 2010 the average employee took 6.5 days off sick, which was a slight increase of 0.1 days compared to the previous year’s figures.
Fit notes were introduced in 2010 to replace the sick note with the main change being that GPs were able to advise workers about how to return to work and report on the impact of their illness or injury.
The study found that 66 per cent of firms thought that fit notes had not encouraged their employees to return to work and 71 per cent did not believe that doctors were using them in a different way from the old sick note.
Employee absence resulted in the British economy losing 190 million working days, of which 30.4 million days were ‘sickies’, and this equated to £17 billion in lost revenue.
Katja Hall, CBI chief policy director, said that examples of unwarranted employee absence were damaging the economic recovery and employers must act to bring down levels of absence.
She said: “The gap between the best and worst has widened. The substantial costs of absence to the economy put a premium on managing longer-term absence well. There can be no room for complacency in addressing the so-called sick note culture.”
Employers must recognise that every employee will get ill occasionally but regular instances of absence must be tackled as for small businesses especially they can mean the difference between profit and loss.
Stress-related health problems are increasingly common so if an employee complains of this it is important to help them as they will feel less engaged and more likely to miss work if their employers do nothing to support them.
Increasing engagement through regular communication will enable managers to understand the professional and personal problems an employee may be experiencing, which can then be dealt with as quickly as possible.
Providing support will make an employee feel valued and this will encourage them to remain with an employers and motivate them return to work if they are forced to take time off due to illness.