Helping To Address Staff Sickness Absence

According to a recent survey by the Office for National Statistics, 2021 saw the highest rate of sickness absence from work in the UK for more than a decade. An estimated 149.3 million working days were lost, which is equivalent to 4.6 days for each working person over the age of sixteen, in either full or part time work.

It will be no surprise to learn that COVID-19 accounted for nearly a quarter of this. In 2021 there were still considerable restrictions in place surrounding COVID-19, which meant that Employees were legally required to stay at home to isolate if they became infected with this dreadful virus. According to the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) ‘Health And Wellbeing At Work Survey 2022’, only 3% of organisations had no COVID 19-related absences, which shows how widely it has impacted businesses.

Whilst restrictions have now largely been replaced with guidance for most people who now become infected with COVID-19, K Bater Consultancy has recently found that sickness absence from work continues to be high for many of its clients. In some instances these are COVID-19 related, which is no surprise given that perhaps 1 in 20 people in the UK are currently believed to be infected. As the CIPD survey also discovered, just under half of businesses have employees who have experienced – or are experiencing – long COVID, which is now a major cause of long-term absence in the UK.

However, alongside COVID-19, we shouldn’t forget that people are still experiencing the same illnesses, injuries and problems that caused them to be absent from work before the pandemic began, so we now face a combination of “the old and the new”. As a result, many businesses are facing staffing issues which are contributing significantly to the already demanding situation many businesses find themselves in as they try to recover from two and a half years of disruption, against a backdrop of rising costs and economic uncertainty, with a shortage of labour making recruitment increasingly difficult.

What may be reassuring to some employers is that research also shows that, in most instances, staff sickness will be genuine. However, it will be small comfort if a shortage of staff because of sickness means a business is struggling to operate properly, or even survive.

So, what can be done? Unfortunately, there is no magic potion that can immediately stop staff sickness absence, and it will always occur. However, businesses should look to make changes which develop and promote a positive attendance culture, help and support employees to address both physical and mental health issues at an early stage, and also look at how they can help staff return to work in the correct way. Amongst other things, this sort of approach can prevent health matters becoming a cause for regular or prolonged absence, reduce the stress of being ill, prompt discussions about changing how some staff work and, ultimately, help limit and reduce the disruption sickness absence can cause.

If you would like to find out more about how K Bater Consultancy can help your business address the challenge of staff sickness absence, please give us a call.

About K Bater Consultancy

K Bater Consultancy provides human resource support, advice, and solutions to small and medium sized businesses across the UK, and are experts in helping manage staff absence, as well as helping businesses develop employee wellbeing programmes and a culture which can reduce sickness absence.

Its founder and principal, Kelly Bater, has more than 20 years’ experience advising and supporting small and medium sized businesses with all aspects of human resource management, is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and has a Post Graduate Diploma in HR Management.

To find out more about how K Bater Consultancy can help your business, contact Kelly today on 07500 939255 or via email at kelly@kbaterhr.com