Survey takes temperature of region over rate of sickness

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Yorkshire and the Humber has a better than average sickness record and comes fifth in the UK for the number of days lost to sickness, according to the 
2016 Sickness Absence Survey report.

The annual business survey, published today by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, and employee benefits company, Jelf, shows that 5.1 days a year are now lost to sickness per person in the region, down from 5.2 days a year previously, and lower than the 5.3 days per person lost on average in the UK.

The region has moved up from seventh to fifth in the UK – only the South West, South East, 
West Midlands and the North East lose fewer days to sickness per person.

At the same time, the region’s absence rate has decreased from 2.3 per cent to 2.2 per cent, enough for it to beat the national average of 2.3 per cent.

Across the UK, long-term absence has increased for the second year in a row. At the same time, four in ten firms (40 per cent) say that an under pressure NHS is struggling to meet their need to get employees back to work.

Andy Tuscher, EEF’s Yorkshire and Humber region director, said: “It’s interesting to see how our region compares for sickness rates, but there is a serious concern here. We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that keeping people fit and healthy, while enabling a speedy return to work from absence, is essential to economic growth.

“However, this report shows long-term absence on the increase and an under-pressure NHS that is struggling to deal with the issue. With an ageing population this situation is only going to get worse – radical action is required.”

The report showed a further fall in employers’ confidence in GPs to improve return-to-work rates, while perceptions of the effectiveness of the fit note system continues to deteriorate. At the same time, the burden of referring employees to the new Fit for Work service is shifting to employers.

The report warns that an over-stretched NHS is proving unable to support the working age population by providing timely and effective rehabilitation and medical treatment. As a result, it is urging radical action to tackle the UK’s chronic sickness absence problem and to encourage more employers to pay for private treatment for employees to ease the burden on the NHS.