RR531 - A pilot study into improving sickness absence recording in National Health Service acute trusts

Managing attendance at work is recognized as being an increasing priority for all employers. Both short term and long term absences have a significant impact upon the efficiency and resources of any company and the management of such absences can have a significant effect on both the company and the individuals who are involved. Within large public sector organizations such as NHS Trusts, the recording and management of absence can be inefficient and result in poor absence data. Many Occupational Health departments who are willing to help employees who have health problems find that their task is made more difficult by the lack of available "real time" data which identifies the reasons and dates of any absence spells and whether these are work related. Within the NHS, Occupational Health Services frequently only become aware of employee related health concerns following a referral by the line manager. The referral is frequently outside the recommended periods of time stated within policies and can also be lacking in many important details. This study aimed to explore ways that more effective "real time" data could be collected in order to assist both managers and occupational health in their efforts to support employees back to work, and to reduce the amount of work related ill health.

This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

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Updated 2021-04-20