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04.01.13

2020health calls on employers to tackle sickness absence

Employers must do more to ensure employees’ mild illness does not escalate into long-term absence and sickness-related worklessness, a new report urges.

2020health has produced a new report: ‘Work as a health outcome in the devolved nations: How Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales tackle sickness-related worklessness’, which looks into initiatives employers can use to keep long-term absence down.

The report praised the Glasgow Works project, Northern Ireland’s Civil Service and the RCN’s management policy in Wales.

The Sickness Absence review in 2011 recommended that expenditure by employers targeted at keeping sick employees in work, such as medical treatments or vocational rehabilitation, should attract tax relief.

Julia Manning, CEO of 2020health said: “It is in the interest of employers who are liable for sick pay, to ensure that their employees are well supported if they become ill. Much illness is compatible with work, even if adjustments have to be made to working conditions.

“Our report shows that when employers put systems in place to support people staying in work, sickness absence goes down. Employers should be encouraged by government to do this. Employees who know they will be well supported in sickness and in health will ultimately be happier and more productive.”

The sickness benefit rate in Scotland has fallen from 10.1% to 8.3% in the past ten years. Rates in Wales have fallen from 12.1% to 9.4% over the same period. Both countries have seen a much steeper decline than England. While the claimant rate in England has fallen by 10%, in Scotland and Wales it has declined by 18% and 22% respectively.

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