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New data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggest that in the UK, sickness absence figures have gone down in the last 10 years, with 131 million days lost due to sickness absences in 2013, down from 178 million days in 1993.
Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind, said:
“These figures suggest that sickness absence has gone down. This is good news, but might not be an accurate picture - statistics could reflect higher levels of ‘presenteeism’ – employees coming to work when they’re not very well, because they are worried about admitting they are struggling. These data also suggest neck, back and muscle pain are the main causes of sickness absence, but we know that stress too is a huge contributory factor for time off work. A recent survey by Mind found 90 per cent of those who’d taken time off for stress cited a different reason for their absence, indicating there is still a stigma in having time off work for a mental health problem."
“It is concerning to see that those working in health sectors have relatively high levels of sickness absence. Health professionals often have demanding roles, so it’s vital that measures are in place to support them through difficult times, particularly in the current economic climate when many people are concerned about change management, redundancies and increased workloads."
“When an employee is off sick, it’s vital to keep the lines of communication open, let them know they are valued without pressuring them back to work prematurely. Discussing a phased return is often a good idea, as is considering reasonable adjustments. When an employee is ready and able to return to work, small gestures like meeting them at the entrance to come into the office together or going for a team lunch are good ways to welcome them back.”