Long-term sickness absence – work stress named as most common cause

This year’s Absence Management survey, released today by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and corporate healthcare provider Simply Health (and available to download from the CIPD website), has found that work stress is the most common cause of long-term sickness absence for both manual and non-manual employees – the first time this has been the case in the twelve years the report has been published.

The survey was based on online questionnaires conducted with 592 employees across all sectors. Some key results include that:

  • the proportion of organisations reporting stress as the most common cause of absence for non-manual workers has risen from 24% last year to 33% this year;
  • stress affects 21% of manual workers and is now level with acute medical conditions as the main cause of long-term sickness absence;
  • connections were made between increased volumes of work and stress-related absence, and between (lack of) job security and mental health problems.

Employers have a responsibility to look after the mental and physical health of their employees. In order to prevent problems as stress levels escalate, employers should try to create a workplace culture in which employees are able to discuss issues as they arise. More information on employers’ roles in dealing with stress can be found in a recent blog (‘Stress at work – not just an employee issue‘) on the Health for Work website, as well as from the advisers on the free Health for Work Adviceline (0800 0 77 88 44).

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