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Staff sick days on the rise, says report

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Nearly a quarter of businesses have seen staff absenteeism rise in the last year, according to new figures.

The Close Brothers Business Barometer has found that over a third of small and medium enterprise (SME) owners feel as though a proportion of their employees take unfair advantage of sick leave.

While 19 per cent of respondents said they thought that absence levels had decreased, 24 per cent reported that they had experienced the opposite and that the number of occasions when staff stayed at home as a result of illness had actually gone up.

Minor illnesses like flu were listed as the main reason for absence, according to two-thirds of SME leaders, while recovery periods needed after an employee had undergone an operation was another influencing factor.

Close Brothers Asset Finance chief executive Mike Randall said a “considerable” number of SMEs were concerned about the potential abuse of sick leave, which he added could have repercussions on productivity levels if it was not properly controlled.

“In the current climate, many workplaces are already stretched and employers are aware that they have a responsibility to protect their staff from undue stress,” he commented. “That is why it is important that unauthorised absence is managed consistently and fairly to help minimise the impact on the wider workforce.”

The implementation of mobile working could make a difference, with employees given the tools to continue their work from home if they feel as though they may be too ill to come into the office but well enough to carry out day-to-day tasks.

This strategy could also prove successful if staff are abusing sick leave simply to stay at home for the day, providing them with a better work/life balance so they may feel as though they no longer have to resort to ‘pulling a sickie’ to achieve this.