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New Survey Suggests UK Sickness Rates Have Taken a Dramatic Fall

September 5, 2013
Public Health

A study by academics at Wolverhampton Business School has found that UK sickness rates have fallen to half those reported in France and Germany. The work was based on the European Company Survey and included 2,620 private sector firms in the three countries looking specifically at answers to the question, ?does your company have a high rate of staff absence?? Researchers found that fewer than one in ten UK companies admitted to being affected. In comparison the figure was as high as one in four in Germany and one in five in France.? Companies where more than 20% of the workforce were employed on a part time basis were not included in the survey.

Greater employment protection and more generous sick pay are thought to be some of the reasons behind the differences found in the study although as co-author Dr Wen Wang pointed out there were also other underlying factors; ?our results also show that a friendly and supportive working environment can reduce sickness, regardless of nationality.? Sickness absence costs the economy in the region of ?30 billion every year and recent figures issued by the Office for National Statistics showed the national average to be 4.5 days for each employee. Figures in the Public Sector were highest with NHS workers absent for an average of 9.5 days every year which prompted Sue Covill, Director of Employment Services at the NHS Employers Organisation to comment; ?The simple fact is the NHS environment has become more challenging for everyone, making supportive approaches essential to mitigate the pressures and help staff work within them.”

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