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May 19, 2008

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Barriers to rehabilitation costing manufacturers millions – EEF survey reveals

The continuing failure to break down the barriers to effective rehabilitation of employees is costing Britain’s manufacturers up to £610 million a year according to a major report on sickness absence published by the EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, in partnership with disability insurer, Unum.

The EEF’s Sickness Absence Report 2008 shows that those organisations stating that they do not encounter any barriers to rehabilitating employees, on average, have sickness absence rates that are 0.7 per cent lower than those with barriers. On an annual basis, this means an extra 1.5 days attendance per worker or approximately 4.5 million days of work lost across the manufacturing industry.

The major barriers to rehabilitation that most affected sickness absence rates were identified in the report as the ‘misconceptions about the effect of the employee’s health condition’, ’employee resistance to rehabilitation’, ‘the role of General Practitioners in promoting rehabilitation’ and ‘concern about employees being protected under the Disability Discrimination Act’.

Commenting on the findings, EEF Chief Medical Adviser, Professor Sayeed Khan, said: “Promoting rehabilitation in the workplace is the single biggest factor that government, employers, employees and healthcare professionals can address in tackling our sickness absence record. Dame Carol Black’s review of the health and well-being of the working population is a critical part of this process and we need all stakeholders to support this if we are to make the necessary step change in behaviour.”

Professor Mike O’Donnell, Unum Chief Medical Officer, added: “We know that many of the things that prevent people from returning to work are unrelated to their actual health condition. Unum’s work with Cardiff University has highlighted the importance of psychosocial factors — including beliefs, fears and advice from family – in prolonging absence from work, and these results confirm that the employee’s health condition is only one of the many factors in preventing return to work. Employers and healthcare professionals need much greater awareness of these psychosocial issues when assessing how to help people return to work.”

Commenting on the report, Dame Carol Black, National Director for Health & Work, said: “The results echo much of what I discovered during my review and it is encouraging to see support for one of my key proposals — the Fit for Work service. I am glad to see EEF endorsing the idea and recommending it should be a priority. The survey also importantly highlights the issue of mental health problems, an area where there needs to be early intervention to prevent such problems becoming long-term and leading to people losing their jobs.”

The report also shows that those companies investing in rehabilitation and absence management policies, especially training for line managers, are continuing to reap the benefits with lower absence rates and higher levels of profitability.

The report, based on one of the UK’s largest surveys of companies on the management of sickness absence and rehabilitation, also contains a number of findings which challenge popular assumptions:

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.

stress

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