The average level of employee absence has fallen by a day to 6.6 days per employee in the last year, nearly a third report that rates have been affected by caring responsibilities, research has found.
Mental health problems have increased among employees in the past 12 months especially in larger organisations and just one in ten had employers had seen a decrease in stress-related absence.
Absence levels tend to be higher in larger organisations than smaller ones, nearly half are reporting they may make redundancies in the next six months, and absence records are taken into consideration for selecting redundancy.
Policies and guidelines for those who are carers exist in just 16% of organisations, 37% make decisions on an individual basis.
Stress is a more common cause of long-term absence among organisations that have made redundancies in the last six months than those which haven't.
Flexible working providers showed significantly less home/family responsibilities in their top causes of short-term absence of 10% of organisations.
Corinne Williams, head of HR at Simplyhealth said: "Adapting both working practices and health and wellbeing initiatives to support the changing needs of today's modern workforce is a must for organisations. The expectation that employees conform to rigid working patterns is becoming a thing of the past as demands on an individual's time continue to increase.
"Although it's great to see that this year a fifth of organisations have increased their wellbeing spend, it needn't cost the earth. Understanding the issues affecting your employees and equipping line management with the tools they need to help support them is key to a healthy, happy workforce."
Non-genuine absence is one of the top causes of short-term absence for 30% of organisations, those which use flexible working report significantly less non-genuine absences.
In the public sector stress remains more common as a cause of absence, while home/family responsibilities and non-genuine absence levels being lower than in the private sector.
Emily Holzhausen, director of policy at Carers UK, said: "3 million people are juggling work with caring for an older or disabled loved one. Without the right policies in the workplace and the support of good quality, flexible and affordable care services, these employees often feel unable to juggle it all, with millions feeling they have no alternative but to give up work to care. We estimate this costs business £3.5 billion a year, with extra costs to the economy and to the families themselves in lost earnings and pensions."
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