Staff at larger organisations take three times as many sick days as those at micro firms

absenceEmployers with over 250 employees are more likely to have a significant absence issue among staff says new research from Group Risk Development (GRiD). According to HR decision makers companies with over 250 employees have the highest absence rates – averaging 7.5 days per year yet micro businesses with between 1-9 staff only see their staff take an average of 2.8 days absence per year. Five per cent of HR decision makers also admitted to not recording or monitoring absence at all, although this is more prevalent amongst SMEs (6 percent) than those with over 250 employees (1 percent). This equates to nearly 300,000 businesses across the UK with no way of knowing how often staff are off sick, whether they have a legitimate reason for being off work or whether specific individuals take more sick leave than others. Furthermore, 55 percent of large businesses believe they have a higher sickness absence rate than their industry average, with 25 percent of these putting this down to ineffective absence management. This begs the question why they aren’t doing more to prevent it.

The research suggests that, in many cases, absence issues are not clear-cut for an employer: a combination of issues can cause a member of staff to be off work, and each issue may require a slightly different type of help. Musculoskeletal conditions may benefit from fast access to physiotherapy. Other absentees may need a second medical opinion. Employees suffering from stress or mental health problems may benefit from fast-tracked access to talking therapies or from utilising an Employee Assistance Programme, as would someone struggling with relationship problems, addiction, childcare or eldercare responsibilities.

Said Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD: “There are two sorts of communication strategies required here: the first is to make sure all staff know that support is available to help them stay in or get back to work. The second, which is often overlooked, is about how line managers can signpost their staff better to support and help the Board improve absence reporting and management.”