When a workforce is fit and focused on the job in hand, it’s easy to concentrate on commercial success. New products. New campaigns. Expansion, even. Everyone’s happy when everyone’s healthy. But did you know that as much as 25% of the UK’s workforce has taken off 2 weeks or more in sick leave in recent years?
It’s not surprising that almost the same proportion of employers (26%) feel sickness absence is an issue for their business, particularly as the consequential costs involved can soon mount. It’s a headache, in more ways than one. And that’s why a robust sickness policy is vital, and a sickness policy that caters for every aspect of absenteeism in the workplace can be key to maintaining a healthy bottom line.
Adding up the costs
When an employee calls in sick, there can be far-reaching financial consequences. How much does sickness absence cost your business?
Use our Absence Calculator to find out.
In sickness and in health
In 2012, we carried out an Absence Management report to uncover the key issues in this area. We asked the market researchers, OnePoll, to canvas 1,000 British adult employees and 500 employers on our behalf between 26-27 June 2012, which gave us a broadly representative insight to the views of UK companies across a range of industries and sectors – their experiences, their thoughts, and their views on sickness in the workplace.
Some of the insights weren’t surprising. The majority of employees still worry about making ends meet if they’re taking unexpected time off work; mental health issues are still a concern, and just over a fifth of the employees we spoke to still maintain that the State should support them if they’re off sick. Irrespective of individual views though, for an employer it is the immediate impact of sickness absenteeism that’s so hard to deal with: 40% of employers said someone else had to pick up the work
- Over a quarter of the companies we spoke to said productivity fell
- Nearly a quarter (22%) believed it impacted the business financially
- 21% said service standards suffered
So what’s the best policy on having a sickness policy?
When it comes to Health and Safety, there’s still no directive that insists a company should have an official Sickness Policy. That’s a surprise perhaps, because common sense says that a good Sickness Policy can have a positive effect on not only the processes involved and the management of an absence period, but also on the morale of the people involved. Coping with the consequences of short-notice temps, perhaps; knowing there’s a set of guidelines to follow; having information available about benefits and pay.
However, the HSE does identify the six key elements required to effectively manage sickness absence and a return to work – recording the absence, staying in contact, planning and undertaking workplace adjustments, working up a return-to-work plan, and co-ordinating that rehabilitation back into the workplace – and those form a neat skeleton around which a good sickness policy can be framed.
What’s your policy on sickness policies?
It makes sense for every company to have a hard-working sickness policy in place. It helps manage absenteeism; communicate the company’s position clearly; demonstrates a commitment to helping the employee return to work – and explains what will happen in the interim, in terms of responsibilities and remuneration.
A good policy will be specific about the levels of income an employee can expect – either directly from the company, as a contribution from the State, or indeed as the benefit from an Income Protection policy, perhaps. Our Maximum Benefit calculator is a useful tool to signpost clearly, if you’re offering Aviva’s Income Protection policy to your employees.
Best of all though, if there’s a clear set of guidelines outlining the processes involved following an unexpected leave of absence due to illness or injury, we believe employees are reassured about the company’s commitment to their wellbeing: that in turn could reduce stress levels – which is conducive to speeding up the recovery and rehabilitation journey. Too big, as a leap of logic? Not really. A company that has a robust sickness policy in place is a business that shouldn’t need to worry about knee-jerk decisions, if employees call in sick; the financial benefits to being organised are clear.
We’re happy to help businesses review their Sickness Policies, take a closer look at Group Risk and Income Protection arrangements – and consider how they’re communicating ‘the plan’ to their employees, before the need arises to ‘call in sick’.