Workplace Sick Leave: Do You Support the Business or the Worker?

Due to the UK’s National Health Service reports being increasingly overburdened & the British Medical Association recommending that workers only require a doctors sick note after a two week absence from their jobs, companies are trying to combat the increasing cost of long-term employee absence due to illness.

A survey conducted between HR firms across the UK saw the following unsettling figures for companies in the UK:

• 2.5 million working days are lost to long-term illness absence each year.
• 42% of companies reported upsurges in illness related absence over the last 2 years.
• 45% of employers with fewer than 100 employees rely heavily on the NHS to deliver treatment for long-term bad health conditions with only 21% of UK companies that can afford to pay for private employee medical bills.

The workers union has suggested introducing incentives such as tax reductions for employers and SMEs that are supporting employees during a long-term period of sickness. Meanwhile, the Resolution Foundation is a nonprofit organisation fighting for employee rights and campaigning for a 12 month “right to return” period after a prolonged employee absence. So it really is a balancing act between giving employees with ill health appropriate time to recover whilst not being too financially devastating on businesses.