A major survey of work and health by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, and specialist insurance broker Howden, shows that waiting time for treatment, surgery and tests, and stress at work, are the largest causes of long-term absence.
Both of these have been on the increase in the three previous surveys since 2009 whilst other health conditions such as back problems, heart conditions and cancer have either plateaued or declined.
EEF is urging the Government to use its review into occupational health (OH) provision in the UK to ensure that all companies have access to such services as part of a much wider strategy for tackling more than just work-related sickness absence.
Terry Woolmer, EEF’s Head of Health and Safety Policy, said: “It has long been recognised that a healthy workforce is a more productive workforce. Investment in the wellbeing of employees by both the employer and Government makes sense not just for good business practice but also the benefits to wider society from reduced benefits and pressure on a stretched NHS system.”
The survey also shows that, while employers recognise the importance of OH, many are still not recording either the levels of absence or the impact that their risk assessments are making on ill-health.
In addition, the use of early intervention services such as physiotherapy — which have the greatest potential to facilitate early return to work — has declined.
Glenn Thomas, Managing Director of Employee Benefits for Howden UK, said: “Business leaders need to engage with employees to find out which services are best suited and make sure that employees are using the benefits provided to them.”