UK employees are getting healthier - or more honest, according to a Confederation of British Industr...
UK employees are getting healthier - or more honest, according to a Confederation of British Industry (CBI) absence survey.
Workers took 164 million days off sick last year, four million fewer than in 2004. Not since 1987, the year of the first CBI survey, has there been fewer days off.
Speaking at the CBI and AXA absence conference 2006, Lord Hunt, minister for health and safety, said: "This is encouraging news but more needs to be done.
"A lot of the problem with the absentee system has been that it emphasises what employees cannot do, rather than what they are able to do even when they may be ill."
The survey found that long-term absence accounts for over a third of working time lost in the private sector and over half in the public sector.
Genuine short-term sickness caused the majority of absences, with colds and flu the main cause, followed by recurring illnesses such as repetitive strain injury, asthma and back pain.
Stress, the second most common type of illness overall, fell - perhaps due to three-quarters of firms questioned now having a stress management policy.
However, while the number of days lost through absence dropped in the past year, the cost of staff absence to the UK economy rose to over £13bn in 2005 - up from £12bn in the previous year.
Dudley Lusted, head of corporate healthcare development at AXA PPP Healthcare, said early prevention could help slash the cost of absence.
He said: "All employers who provide early access to treatment experience significantly lower absence levels."
Also speaking at the conference, Julian Taylor, partner at law firm Simmons & Simmons, said it was crucial to continue having a dialogue with absent employees.
"I encourage employers to know where their staff are - often people disappear off the radar when they are sick. Therefore, good communication is vital when dealing with those absent," he said.
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