East of England has lowest sickness rates in the country, survey says

PUBLISHED: 06:00 16 June 2014

Woman Suffering a Headache

Woman Suffering a Headache

Andy Dean Photography

Businesses in the east can lay claim to having the most stoic staff in the country after research revealed the region has the lowest sickness rates.

While 4.9 days are lost per person to sickness every year nationally, across the East of England it falls to 4.5 days per year, according to the sickness absence survey by the manufacturing organisation EEF.

However, stress and mental health disorders have shown the biggest increase in long-term absence, with just over half of companies reporting it as a cause – an increase of 7pc in the last five years – while a fifth of companies cited it as the most common cause, an increase of 4pc in the last five years.

Jim Davison, eastern region director at EEF, said: “Sickness and absence levels in this region may be amongst the lowest in the UK, but we cannot afford to rest on our laurels.

“Driving down absence rates, helping more employees return to work earlier and encouraging their well-being is critical for our economy. But, despite employers increasing investment in managing sickness absence and providing their employees with more health-related benefits, the improvement in overall absence rates has more or less now plateaued.

“From now on the focus has to be on reducing long-term absence, which is only going to happen if we up our game. This must start by making the ‘Fit Note’ fit for purpose so that it can make real inroads in reducing unnecessary sickness absence.”

Iain Laws, managing director UK Healthcare at Jelf Employee Benefits, said: “A focus on prevention must become a priority for UK employers who need to maintain a competitive workforce within an overall population that is both ageing and ailing. “This is not only essential to tackle absence, but to also address the less easily identifiable issue of presenteeism, which can see job performance decline as a result of ill health. This is fundamentally a well-being problem with stress and musculoskeletal issues almost certainly mirrored as the main causes, as with absenteeism.”

• Do you have a business story for the Eastern Dail Press? Contact business writer Ben Woods on 01603 772426 or

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