Public Sector Absence Management in the Spotlight

With the public sector facing the toughest spending cuts for 20 years, budget constraints are likely to result in the costs associated with absenteeism coming into the spotlight as a source of cost-saving.

The effect of sickness absence is felt even more in small public sector organisations and current fears regarding job insecurity are likely to raise levels of anxiety and increase the number of absences, as well as encourage presenteeism, with more staff coming to work when ill.

“Many public sector roles such as nursing, social care, policing and teaching can be stressful and physically demanding, and improving the health and wellbeing of the workforce has a direct effect on the quality of frontline services,”

said Jan Robinson, Occupational Health Services Manager at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust.

“Helping an experienced and skilled employee to stay in work makes sense in terms of business performance, staff morale, reduced staff turnover recruitment and costs.”

Managers who are worried about the health of their staff can call a free Health for Work Adviceline (Tel: 0800 0 77 88 44) run by NHS Plus. The service is aimed specifically at small organisations, who tend not to have occupational health resources. Managers will get direct access to occupational health professionals for advice on how to help an individual employee with a health condition, so minimising the impact of absenteeism on services and pressures on other staff.

The Health for Work Adviceline also helps with occupational health monitoring, screening and surveillance, as well as lifestyle and well-being issues, absence management and rehabilitation advice, referring managers to further support if appropriate.

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