Long-term absence has a major impact on both businesses and staff morale, according to research by Aviva UK Health.
The Group Risk Review found that while 69% of employers said that long-term sickness absence is an important issue for their business, just under a quarter of employees (23%) are deterred by working for an organisation where colleagues are off sick for a long period.
One in five (22%) feel overworked if they have to make up for a colleague’s absence in the workplace.
One in ten employees (10%) worry that the organisation will go out of business and they will lose their job if one of their colleagues goes off sick for a prolonged period of time.
For those who are on sick leave, one-fifth feel guilty about letting colleagues down. However, 71% would be concerned about returning to work from long-term sick leave.
Nearly one in five (16%) employees said they would worry that they will not be able to cope with their old responsibilities, while 11% worry that their old problem will come back and they will go off sick again.
Over half (58%) of employees worry whether their family or themselves would be able to survive financially if they went on long-term sick leave. One in five (21%) would be concerned about paying their mortgage.
Steve Bridger, head of group risk at Aviva UK Health, said: “Our research shows that it is not unusual for an employee to be off sick for a prolonged period of time at some point during their working life.
“If this happens, both the emotional and financial strains on the absent employee and remaining team members can be huge.
“Simply having the right protection in place can greatly reduce the stresses of being ill for both the employee and the employer.
“Group income protection for example, offers employers financial protection against the cost of sickness absence. This means that they have funds available to continue to support the absent employee and make provisions to cover the workload of the absent employee – if they choose.
“In addition, they have access to a range of rehabilitation support to help aid their employee’s recovery and ease their return to work.”
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