Every year a lot of days are lost to sickness absence – in fact the figure for 2011 was quoted as an incredible 131 million. Interestingly, though, this figure does seem to be falling slightly as the years pass. This is possibly down to improved treatments for certain illnesses as well as better diagnostic methods becoming available over time.
However, long term sickness remains a problem within UK business and in 20111 the government called for an independent review into sickness absence. One of the main things that the report found was that in many cases, there were instances of people who were off work with stress or manageable musculoskeletal problems such as a sore back , who became signed off work more or less indefinitely. Then there were cases of people who fell out of employment due to long term sickness and became benefits claimants.
The report identified instances where people could in fact have been assisted in returning to work for instance by altering the nature of the tasks carried out. The government has now proposed an independent advisory service that will help assess individual cases where people are on sick leave for over four months and also help people on long term sick leave find a role that is appropriate to the tasks they’d be able to carry out
The new independent advisory service could – along with the health cover that many employers purchase from providers such as AXAPPP business health insurance, become an important factor in workplace wellbeing and the minimising of sickness absence.