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May 11, 2011

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Bogus sick days cost British business billions

Sickness absence cost the UK economy £17 billion last year, including £2.7 billion lost to non-genuine illness, or ‘sickies’.

The results of the annual Absence and Workplace Health Survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Pfizer, published today (11 May), reveal that 190 million working days were lost to absence last year – a marginally higher rate than in 2009. However, the average rate of sick days taken per employee – 6.4 – was the lowest in the survey’s 23-year history.

More than 30 million ‘bogus’ sick days were taken, an increase in the 2009 total. According to the CBI, these ‘sickies’ are unfair on others in the workplace and damage employers’ competitiveness at a critical point in the economic recovery.

In line with the findings of the EEF’s absence survey, published last week, the CBI and Pfizer concluded that the ‘fit note’ system, introduced last year, has not had a positive impact. Despite strong support for the initiative, employers have been disappointed by their experience so far: 66 per cent said it had not benefited their rehabilitation policy, and 71 per cent felt that GPs are not using it differently from the old sick note.

The CBI’s chief policy director, Katja Hall, commented: “The substantial costs of absence to the economy put a premium on managing longer-term absence well. The fit note is a great initiative, which could play an important role in helping people back to work and stopping them slide into long-term absence. But employers are far from convinced that the scheme is working properly and don’t think GPs are getting the necessary training.

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.


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