Compassionate bosses see lower levels of absence

Apr 20 2005 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Workers take fewer days off sick if their company makes an effort to look after their home as well as their workplace life, research has suggested.

Flexible working hours, being generous on compassionate leave and giving staff the option to work from home all help to cut down on absenteeism, the survey by the body Employee Advisory Resource has said.

The survey, entitled In Sickness and In Health, has been launched to coincide with a conference being run by the organisation Working Families.

Even though finding cover can often be a bigger problem for smaller companies, SMEs because of their close-knit environment are often better at dealing with this issue than larger, less personal organisations, it argued.

Smaller firms often adopted a more open culture in tackling problems such as stress.

The study of 52 firms calculated that says sick days cost the economy £11.6 billion a year, or £476 for each worker in the country.

Spokesman Olivier Bouley said: "Absenteeism is now recognised as a major issue in the UK workplace by business and government leaders alike.

"Employers attempting to address this issue have used a variety of tactics, ranging from strict new policies to trying to understand and remove the reasons that can cause employees to go absent."

But the report also found many firms were less than sympathetic when it came to sick days, with many cracking down hard on perceived "malingerers", with some hiring even going so far as to hire private investigators to check up on staff.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "It's always going to be the employers who treat their staff with respect and offer help like flexible working that get the most from their staff."