GPs blame employers for employee sickness

20-07-2006

The majority of GPs blame employers for a dramatic increase in the number of people being signed off work for a week or more.

A survey commissioned by Norwich Union Healthcare revealed that 94 per cent of GPs felt that employers were to blame for the increase in ill health and absenteeism, which is currently costing UK businesses £13 billion a year.

Employers are failing to take responsibility for their employees' health and wellbeing, doctors believe, with HR directors reporting the main problems as stress (76 per cent), back problems (63 per cent) and depression (57 per cent), which can all be caused or made worse by the working environment.

More than a third of GPs have noticed a dramatic increase in the number of employees needing to be signed off for a week or more for problems like these, with many doctors feeling that the number will soar further if employers do not take action.

"Businesses must look to the many examples that exist within both the public and private sector of organisations, such as the Royal Mail and Rolls Royce, which have actively promoted a healthy workplace and proactively managed adverse health effects and consequently achieved a reduction in absence and ill health and increases in productivity," said director of Norwich Union Healthcare, Tim Baker.

Only 38 per cent of British businesses see employee wellbeing as a HR priority and 40 per cent do not have any system in place for health management, the report found.



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