Study shows geographical differences in Sickness Absence
A new report by manufacturer’s association EEF has showed that there are measurable geographic differences in sickness absence from work in the manufacturing sector.
Traditionally any workplace figures are expected to show a North/South divide, but surprisingly these figures highlight a difference between East and West!
Workers in the North East take an average of 4.3 days per year off work, (the lowest in the UK), whereas in the North West, workers take nearly 50% more sick days, with an average of 6.2 days (the highest in the UK).
Workers in the South East take an average of 5.3 days per year off work, whereas in the South West, workers take an average of 6.6 days.
This trend is however reversed in the Midlands region – Workers in the East Midlands take 5.7 days per year off work whereas in the West Midlands, workers take an average of 4.7 days.
What is also notable is that Wales and Scotland have almost identical levels of sickness absence, with staff taking 5.2 days in Wales and 5.1 days in Scotland. Workers in Northern Ireland take an average of 5.7 days.
Interestingly, the report also found notable differences in absence between employees in different roles. Manual workers in the East Midlands were most likely to take time off sick, (9 days per year in this sector) whereas a non-manual worker in Northern Ireland would be the least likely to take time off for sickness absence (half a day!).
Liz Mayes, North East Region Director at EEF felt the regional differences were not so important as the increase in absence due to mental health issues, which is showing a steady increase.
Mays says: “While overall levels remain low, there continues to be a marked difference between short and long-term absence, which is creeping upwards.
“Without a renewed effort to tackle the root causes it will continue to act as a drag on the economy and a brake on efforts to improve productivity and boost growth.
“Of particular concern is the gradual increase in stress and mental health-related problems over the last five years, which GPs and employers are struggling to deal with. As a society we can no longer ignore the very real impact of these issues both on the individuals concerned and the wider economy. While employers and GPs appear able to manage other causes of absence they must now be given the tools to deal with stress and mental health issues in the same way.”
Adrian Lewis, Commercial Director for Activ Absence agreed, saying: “Every single absence survey we see highlights a need for better absence management, and in the same two key areas, mental health and musculoskeletal conditions. That is the case no matter where you are geographically based, the geographical statistics are often incidental.”