Public sector workers suffer more from stress than their private sector counterparts, according to new research from Group Risk Development (Grid).
The Group Risk Employer Research, conducted among 500 employers, found that stress is the biggest cause of long-term absence amongst public sector employees, running at almost three times the level for acute medical conditions.
Over a third (38%) of public sector employers stated that stress is the biggest cause of absence in their organisation, compared to just 11% in the private sector.
Across all sectors, the most commonly cited reasons for absences of over four weeks are home and family issues (17%), stress (15%) and acute medical conditions such as heart attacks and cancer (15%).
The research revealed that a third of public sector employers (33%) said that their average employee takes more than five days off sick a year, compared to 16% in the private sector.
Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for Grid, said: “With public sector cuts looming and welfare reform on the government agenda, it is an interesting time to look at what effect these pressures are having on employees in that sector.
“As well as a significant issue with stress, there are clearly cultural differences between the sectors, and perhaps a less permissive environment amongst private sector workers.
“In times of increased economic pressure it is important for employers to consider firstly the wellbeing of their employees and what wider implications are suggested by high levels of stress or other mental illness, and secondly what provisions they have in place to ensure both the employee and the employer are adequately protected in case of long-term absence.
“As welfare reforms move forward, any business that has already embraced the value of integrated health, wellbeing and absence programmes will feel vindicated; any business that has not already understood how crucial this is will come to do so.”
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