Employee Benefits Summit 2011: Surgical procedures and waiting times top causes of long-term sickness absence

Musculo-skeletal disorders and stress are no longer the leading causes of long-term sickness absence.†

Instead, absences due to medical appointments, medical investigation or surgery are the leading causes, according to Dr Sayeed Khan, special professor in occupational health at the University of Nottingham and board member of the Health and Safety Executive.†

Speaking about health and wellbeing in today’s workplace at the Employee Benefits Summit 2011, Khan said: “Stress is decreasing as the main cause of long-term sickness absence.”

According to Khan, appointments and medical investigations accounted for 59% of long-term sickness absences in 2010, up from 47% in 2006. Meanwhile, in 2010, stress accounts for 17% of long-term sickness absences, compared to 24% in 2008 and 32% in 2006.

Waiting for NHS appointments or medical investigations can take upwards of six weeks, he said. But if employers pay for these low-cost preliminary appointments privately, employees can return to work much faster.

Khan added: “Employers can tackle these causes by paying for simple treatments and appointments.”

Read more articles from the Employee Benefits Summit 2011