A survey conducted by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, shows that long term absence is continuing to increase and programmes such as the Fit for Work scheme are ineffective in helping employees return to work. They are urging the government to consider tax breaks to tackle the problem and ease the burden on the NHS. A Green Paper on workforce health will be published later this summer.
Danny Clarke, Group Operations Director at ELAS, responds to some of the points made in the report:
NHS not meeting needs of 40% of manufacturers to get employees back to work
“It’s important to note that GP’s are patient advocates and their primary goal is to get their patients better, not necessarily get them fit to work. The Fit for Work scheme relies on GP’s understanding occupational health and the role within the workplace that their patient undertakes. The best solution is to have an Occupational Health service that understands the needs of your company and can tailor their approach to getting employees back to work to meet those needs. The benefit with an occupational health service is that they can see the risks associated with the working environment and ensure that the needs of both the employees and the company are met.”
Two fifths of manufacturers say long term absence has increased in the last two years
“While many companies record absences, they don’t necessarily consider how they can take corrective steps to proactively prevent them recurring. Managing musculoskeletal absences for example should take into account the workers activities, ergonomics and appropriate training. By educating employees and making sure the correct training, equipment and strategies are in place to manage risks associated with the work your company does, you are more likely to reduce the long term absence rate due to injuries. Employers should also put strategies in place to build a resilient workforce which includes appropriate consideration for stress, anxiety and other mental health related disorders and empower managers to ask the right questions and offer support.”
60% of manufacturers would pay for private treatment if the cost was offset.
“Research has shown a proven return on investment of between £2-9 for every pound spent on proactively creating a healthy workplace, including private medical treatment for employees. The benefits to be gained by having a healthy workforce greatly exceed the cost of putting a scheme in place.”
Fit note system continues to deteriorate
“As above, it’s best for companies to have an Occupational Health system in place. Employers do not have to use the Fit for Work scheme and can refer themselves to an occupational health provider before the 28-day cut off. Early referrals may enable employees who are likely to return to work to do so before the 28 day mark.”
Manufacturers pay out £0.6billion pa in sick pay, £211 per employee
“Having an absence management system, such as ELAS’s Absence Assist, in place means employers are able to identify any trends in absence and take a proactive approach to managing them. Absence Assist has been proven to reduce absence rates by around 62%. It enables you to identify employees who are taking unauthorised absences as well as those who have ongoing health issues that need to be considered. Musculoskeletal injuries and mental health issues are the two biggest causes of long term illness. Having systems in place to identify these issues early and working with employees to support them is the key to reducing long term absences.”
Call our expert team today on 0161 785 2000 to find out more about Occupational Health services and Absence Assist.