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Stephen  Bevan

Sickness absence down, but is sickness ‘presence’ up?

Authors: Stephen Bevan Stephen Bevan

07 June 2010

The latest CBI data on sickness absence in the UK workforce shows a fall in the number of working days lost, compared with previous years. On average, UK workers took 6.4 days off last year - 180 million in total at an estimated cost of almost £17 billion. It's likely that this fall can be explained, at least in part, by job insecurity in a depressed labour market rather than a healthier workforce.

In fact, as a recent study by The Work Foundation on Sickness 'Presence' has found, a growing number of employees feel pressure to come to work when they are unwell. What is more, the lost productivity associated with so-called 'presenteeism' can be 50 per cent higher than that caused by absence.

So, before we start the 'back-slapping' over these latest figures we should take a closer look at what is going on in real organisations - the reality may be a lot less cheery than these figures suggest.


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