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Stress and mental health remain primary reason for days off work

One third of employers are not taking any action to address the issue

8 October 2014

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Absence management figures published in a report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), found that stress and mental health issues remain the overarching reason for days off work.

However, one third of employers who included stress in their top five reasons for absence are not currently taking any action to address this issue.

The CIPD report considers key workplace absence issues and is based on survey replies from 518 organisations from a range of sectors throughout the UK, which employ a total of 1.4 million employees. The survey reports that overall absence levels have fallen from an average of 7.6 days per employee in 2013 to 6.6 days this year.

Forty per cent of employers participating in the survey reported that stress absence has once again increased in the last year, with public sector organisations being more likely to report an increase in stress related absences.

Innes Clark, head of employment law at Morton Fraser commented: "It remains a concern that the number of stress related absences continues to increase. "As with last year, the most common cause of stress identified by the survey is workload, suggesting employees are being required to take on greater amounts of work due to the need for a more streamlined workforce.

"It is important that employers have in place effective procedures to deal with workplace stress including monitoring workload levels. "Despite many organisations surveyed taking steps to tackle stress related absences, one third of employers who included stress in their top five reasons for absence are not currently taking any action to address this issue."

Short-term absences account for the majority of working time lost to absence. While costs are hard to estimate, the median cost of workplace absence of those surveyed with financial records was £609 per employee per year.

Innes added: "Absenteeism can become a significant cost to an employer. If nothing else having good absence procedures in place can ensure a more productive workforce and boost the bottom line."

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