It is reported that Britain’s employers lose more than £23bn every year from sickness absence in the workplace, according to a new healthcare report, issued by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). On the whole, employees are absent for an average of 7.8 days per year. However, the public sector encounters the highest absences with 10.2 days a year, followed by the service sector at 7.7 days and manufacturing at 6.9 days.

BUT the true cost of sickness absence is ……….  Unknown !

There are costs that are not taken into consideration and that the costs are even higher than reported.

Have you considered the following that add to the business losses, when your employee is not present?

  • Decrease in company production/performance
  • employee recruitment costs
  • employee training costs
  • uniform/personal protective equipment costs
  • company vehicle not being utilised
  • desk space – rent/rates/utilities/IT/office equipment
  • work not being completed on time
  • manager’s time in dealing with sickness absence
    • taking call from absent employee
    • arranging additional staff/agency staff
    • rearranging absent employees work
    • return to work interviews following sickness absence
  • wages clerks time in dealing with amended payroll
  • human resources involvement, especially with prolonged sickness absence
  • prearranged annual leave having to be taken when the employee is fit for work
  • low staff morale of those covering absent employees’ duties
  • increased stress levels amongst workforce

It is estimated that a period of sickness absence of four weeks, with the employee being on a salary of £30,000 could be as much as £10,000 to an employer with the above being taken into consideration, although it is not possible to put an accurate figure on items such as low staff morale and increased stress levels with subsequent reduced work performance.

Early Occupational Health intervention, with an appropriate referral, can help minimise some of the above losses. The use of an efficient Occupational Health service with appropriate software, enables early support for any employee ensuring that they are receiving the appropriate advice with regards to their medical condition and that they are receiving the most appropriate treatment for this.

The use of telemedicine is becoming more acceptable by the general workforce. Recent research has shown that 30% of employees would prefer either a telephone or video consultation rather than visiting their GP and that the NHS is planning to use telemedicine as a method of GP consultations, so employees will get used to dealing with the medical professionals in this manner.