New research from Group Risk Development (GRiD), the trade body for the group risk industry, suggests that more than a third (34%) of UK employers have seen their absence rates improve over the last 12 months in comparison with only 16% who said their absence rates have worsened. UK employers have echoed the sentiment of recent ONS Labour Market statistics which stated that UK sick days were down by 47 million since 1993.

Absence management is a key component of business organisation for employers as a strong majority (81%) now actively record, monitor and manage absence. Many also have measures in place to reduce absence and improve attendance with more than two in five employers (44%) using return-to-work interviews, 36% having flexible working initiatives and 26% having disciplinary procedures in place for unacceptable absence. Employers are also feeling more confident about working with fitnotes, with 40% saying they feel they can work with the advice given.

When asked about the change in absence rates, almost two thirds (63%) of employers felt that it was down to good morale in the workplace but 44% said the fear of redundancy and anxiety about jobs may be the reason. 35% of employers  felt that presenteeism could be the reason for changes in workplace absence whilst 31% cited staff shortages.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for Group Risk Development, said: “Absence in the UK workplace is now costing 56% of employers between 1% and 5% of their overall payroll which highlights the value of keeping employees in work and in good health. It’s great to see that businesses are wising up to the importance of managing absence in the workplace and the benefits this brings to their business. It is also important for businesses to consider what provisions they have in place to ensure both the employee and the employer are adequately protected in case of long-term absence.