The Office for National Statistics (ONS), has just released its sickness figures for 2016. And they aren’t as bad as you might think.
In 2016 approximately 137.3 million working days were lost due to sickness or injury.
Which sounds a lot, but is the same as just 4.3 days per worker and this is the lowest rate since ONS records began 24 years ago.
Despite media reports and anecdotal evidence, by far the most common reason for sickness absence was minor illness, e.g. coughs and colds, which accounted for 34 million lost days.
The next was problems such as neck pain, back pain and upper limb problems, which accounted for 30.8 million lost days.
Mental health issues, including depression, stress, anxiety, resulted in “only” 15.8 million days being lost.
If your staff are taking more than the national average, it is not necessarily a cause for concern. But you do need to know what they were off with and whether there is anything you could do at work to make them “less sick”.
Always make them self-certify (if fewer than seven calendar days off sick) and if they are off for longer, then make sure you have a Fit Note from their GP.
Don’t, as one company intended to, just ask for a Fit Note from those employees who they think are lying about their absence, or aren’t performing.
Even if you only pay SSP, this is a government scheme which requires the correct paperwork for it to be paid. No Fit Note, no sick pay.
If you have any questions about sickness absence in your company, then please give me a call. The first 15 minutes of advice is always free of charge. Call on 01491 699 550.
If you know of a business that could do with our help, please let us know – we always reward referrals with chocolate!