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over 7 years ago by Eavanne Allen

Sickness Absence: What’s it costing and how to reduce it?

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Sickness Absence: What’s it costing and how to reduce it?

Sickness absence is estimated to total 140 million days lost every year. The costs of this to employer and State are a mind boggling £9 billion a year. To help mitigate this, the government has recently introduced its new Fit for Work service ( to provide support to employees, employers and GPs to help return to work those off sick.


When looking at absence, it is helpful to divide this up into short term absence (STA) – usually defined as up to two weeks – and long term absence (LTA) – absence episodes over four weeks. These two categories call for discernibly different approaches.


According to the Black and Frost Review (2011) over 80 per cent of all sickness absence spells are short term and account for over half of total working days lost. CBI research (2011) suggests about 15 per cent of days workers take off owing to illness is not genuine and equates to 27 million "sickies". One way to tackle this is to keep track of sickness absence and apply the Bradford Score which applies a formula to identify (and trigger) those individuals who have short, frequent, and unplanned absences which are deemed to be more disruptive to business than longer absences.


How to affect a speedier return to work after a long period of absence can present a number of challenges and the Fit for Work service is a good place to start for advice. There is a big prize for those employers who address successfully their sickness absence levels. The key is to track it accurately and ensure the pathways for action are clear to all,  accountable and joined up.


Dr. Bridget Juniper is an employee well-being consultant at Lockton Employee Benefits. She is also head of Work and Well-Being Ltdwhich specializes in the measurement of employee well-being. 


If you have found this blog interesting, Meridian Business SupportLockton and Dr. Bridget Juniper have launched a dedicated Linkedin Group Wellness at Work UK where you will find useful information, advice and support on how to easily improve the productivity of your workforce by recognising Wellness at Work and what is involved in this broad subject.