Online tool takes the headache out of sick leave

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22 / 7 / 2014 9.51am

The NHS Employers organisation today (22 July) launched a new online tool to further improve the management of staff sick leave in the NHS.

‘Everything you need to know about sickness absence’ is designed to help managers support staff with a confident and consistent approach. 

Its release coincides with official figures released today by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), which show that annual sickness absence rates for NHS staff in England are at their lowest point since 2009-10, when the HSCIC began recording the data.

The online tool provides step-by-step information about what to do when staff call in sick, plus practical advice on some of the common reasons for sickness absence and information on what to do if staff are frequently off sick.

The tool is easy to use and includes 30-second guides in each of the following areas, to encourage the spread of good practice, plus much more detail for those who need it:

  • When staff call in sick
  • Staff frequently off sick
  • Staff with long term sickness
  • Common reasons for absence
  • Supporting staff off sick
  • Supporting staff to return to work
  • Preventing absence

Sue Covill, director of employment services at the NHS Employers organisation, said: 

“It can be hard to know how best to react to, and manage, staff absence. The online tool is here to help and I’m sure it will get widespread use. Our response when someone calls in sick can make a big difference to how they feel and how they behave next, so getting these things right is invaluable.

“We all recognise that healthy, well supported staff are happier in their roles and can give better care. It’s a huge credit to managers and the workforce that sickness absence is falling at a time when the NHS is working exceptionally hard to deliver great care.”


Notes for editors:

  • Today’s figures from the HSCIC show that NHS workers on average had one day off sick out of every 25 (14.82 days a year) in 2013-14 - a 4.06 per cent absence rate. This is a decrease in the number of days off sick from 2012-13, when the sickness absence rate stood at 4.24 per cent - one day off out of every 24 (15.52 days a year).
  • In January 2014 a report by the Royal College of Physicians demonstrated the spread of wellbeing policies. ‘Implementing NICE public health guidance for the workplace’ spanned 178 Trusts and said 115 supported their 562,723 staff with organisation-wide plans or policies on health and wellbeing - up from 275,421 (70 trusts) in 2010.
  • There was extensive evidence to support the value of good sickness policies in reports such as the major ‘NHS Health & Well-being Review’ (2009) by Dr Steve Boorman, and considerable supporting research has been published since.
  • The NHS Employers organisation is the recognised body for employers in the NHS, supporting them to put patients first. See for more information.
  • Follow NHS Employers on Twitter at @nhsemployers or follow Dean Royles, chief executive of the NHS Employers organisation, at @NHSE_Dean


Contact details:

If you have a media enquiry, please contact the press office:

Mike Foster

Senior Media Officer

NHS Employers

Tel: 020 7799 8671


For out of hours media enquiries, please contact the duty press officer on 07880 500 726.

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