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A third of employers do not record the impact that sickness absence has on their business

Press release 17 January 2023.

Research1 from GRiD, the industry body for the group risk sector, shows that although 85% of employers record the sickness absence of their staff, only 63% measure the impact that employees’ sick leave has on their business. GRiD warns that counting sickness days alone is not enough as it doesn’t allow the employer to spot issues, make any strategic changes to mitigate the impact or, ideally prevent it in the first place.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, said: “It’s surprising that some employers do not record absence at all, but concerning that so many don’t appreciate the benefit of understanding how staff absence affects their organisation.

“It is possible to manage sickness absence effectively, and prevention is always better than cure.”

Measuring sickness absence more difficult in hybrid working era

GRiD acknowledges that measuring sickness absence can be difficult, especially in the current hybrid working era, as many members of staff will not be so visible, or may have more erratic working patterns. In addition, where employees may have previously taken sick leave when feeling under the weather,  they may now want, or feel compelled, to work for a few hours or a short day when working from home. Not only is this more complex for employers to monitor but it is also difficult to record.

Of those who do manage to measure the impact that sickness absence has on their business, the top five metrics they measure are:

  • The cost of lost time e.g. hours/days (56% of employers measure this)
  • The cost of sick pay provision e.g. Statutory Sick Pay and salary costs (measured by 46% of employers)
  • The cost of lost productivity (measured by 46% of employers)
  • Indirect costs, such as colleagues covering work, learning time, management time (measured by 38% of employers)
  • Direct costs such as for temps and agency fees (measured by 35% of employers)

GRiD suggests that although measuring the monetary value of lost time is more helpful than simply recording the cumulative length of absences, it ideally needs to be related to other areas to create a more rounded picture of the full impact to the business.

Katharine Moxham continued: “No matter how an organisation records and manages its staff absences, one thing that unites all employers is the need to reduce staff sick days and in turn reduce the impact on the organisation as a whole.”

There is a lot of support for this within employee benefits  which can provide really comprehensive support to tackle staff absence including early intervention, prevention, vocational rehabilitation and signposting to additional support.

Katharine Moxham concluded: “We advocate employers working closely with their employee benefits providers and advisers to determine the best methods to manage staff absence and to support staff back into the workplace. This works at both a macro level when analysing data and trends but also at individual employee level when helping specific staff to make a safe and successful return to the workplace. There’s a lot of support available to help with absence management within health and wellbeing benefits, and especially within group risk benefits (employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness). It makes sense to utilise it to the full.”

  • Ends –
  1. The research was undertaken by Opinium during January 2022 among 501 HR decision-makers and 1,212 employees at UK businesses.

For further information please contact:

Sharon Mason 
SMUK Marketing and PR 
Mob: 07747 611773
Land: 01252 843350

Katharine Moxham
Spokesperson for GRiD
Mob: 07887 512508

Notes for editors

About GRiD

Group Risk Development (GRiD) is the industry body for the group risk sector, promoting the value to UK businesses of providing financial protection for their staff, enhancing their wellbeing and improving employee engagement. Our membership includes insurers, reinsurers, intermediaries and those operating in (or with other interests in) the UK group risk market. Together this forms a collective wealth of experience built over many years. Under the chairmanship of Paul White (head of technical, Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing) GRiD aims to promote group risk through a collective voice to Government, policymakers, stakeholders and employers.

GRiD works with government departments and regulators involved in legislation and regulation affecting group risk benefits, and with other organisations involved in the benefits and financial protection arenas. GRiD also seeks to enhance the industry's standing by encouraging best practice and by participating in industry-wide initiatives such as the professional qualification in group risk managed jointly with the Chartered Insurance Institute.

GRiD’s media activity aims to generate a wider awareness and understanding of group risk products and their benefits for employers and employees.

GRiD's dedicated spokesperson, Katharine Moxham, provides expert media comment on a full range of group risk issues.

Follow Katharine Moxham on Twitter @KMoxham



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