Managing sickness absence more difficult in a pandemic

Reports indicate that employers find it more difficult than ever when it comes to employee sickness absence and it is thought that there may be greater challenges in terms of absence, particularly with regard to work-related stress and burnout.  As remote working is becoming a permanent feature for many, and business recovery depends on balancing cost savings with employee engagement and productivity, there’s an urgent need to have absence management under control.


Employers may be facing a higher incidence of mental health (MH) and musculoskeletal (MSK) claims but lack of reporting of short-term remote absences is making the scale of underlying problems difficult to measure.


Just 16% of employers believe their sickness absence costs data is accurate, according to recent research. And more than four in 10 said they didn’t know if their absence costs data was accurate or not. These costs stood at a median of £568, and an average of £544 per employee in 2019 but it is not known if this is an accurate measurement of the overall cost of sickness absence.

Whilst most employers count the cost of the salaries of individuals on sick leave, few include overtime, reduced performance, service or missed business opportunities.


The statistics for 2020 will be impacted by the fact that one in five adults are likely to have been experiencing some form of depression during the coronavirus pandemic in June 2020. In order to correctly count the cost of absence, employers have to encourage their employees to be open about reporting short term absence and to train line managers to follow up every absence with a return to work meeting to record the absence and offer support.

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