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Government review sickness absence

by James Horridge. Published Wed 30 Nov 2011 15:09
Frances Molloy, Chief Executive of Health@Work
Frances Molloy, Chief Executive of Health@Work

Merseyside organisation Health@Work says it hopes that a recent government review into sickness absence means more will be done to create a healthier working culture in the region.

The government review into sickness absence, jointly chaired by David Frost, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce and Dame Carol Black, national director for Health and Work, delivered its results earlier this month (November).

Workplace absence costs the economy £100 billion a year. More than 300,000 people are forced to leave work to claim sickness-related benefits each year. A massive 150 million working days are lost each year to sickness absence – equivalent to six days for each worker.

One of the more controversial findings of the review is the idea of creating a new independent assessment service to sign workers off sick instead of GPs.

Health@Work works with businesses across Merseyside offering advice in all aspects of workplace health and wellbeing. Chief executive Frances Molloy said: “It is clear that we have to change the way we currently deal with sick employees, as the current system isn’t working. One in six GP consultations are related to work – whether it is stress, anxiety or a muscular skeletal problem, such as back pain.

“By the time people see a GP they may well be sick; but at Health@Work we know from our work with employers that these sicknesses can be avoided by putting in place a healthier work culture. And by intervening early – and listening to both employees and employers – steps can be taken to avoid long term absences.”

One of the projects delivered at Health@Work is the Workplace Wellbeing Charter, developed by Liverpool PCT to improve the health of employees. They have worked with companies of all sizes across the region to educate and encourage a healthier lifestyle in the workplace. The charter covers everything from healthy eating and smoking cessation to promoting good mental health and advice on preventing sickness absence.

Frances says: “We’ve seen the results and know that with the right advice and support, long-term sickness absence is something that can be successfully tackled. We need to ensure this review produces real results, and those affected by long-term sickness have the chance to make a full recovery and a successful return to the workplace.”

For more information about Health@Work please contact: 0151 236 6608 or email: info@healthatworkcentre.org.uk


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