Absence rates in the south of England are up from 2007 figures, according to a survey by HR firm Jaluch.
The research reveals that 45% of companies in the south report a rise in absence rates from the previous year with over half having experienced an employee phoning in sick shortly after being asked to attend a disciplinary meeting.
Even more worrying, 97% of the respondents admitted bosses had difficulty in managing absence.
Helen Clarke, managing director of Jaluch, said: “Employers are experiencing a lot more long-term sickness absence due to illnesses like stress or depression than ever before. The problem is exacerbated because mounting employment legislation is leaving bosses reluctant to manage staffing issues. The work/life balance appears to be shifting and work is the casualty.”
According to Clark, absence rates are exasperating the impact of the credit crunch with further losses in productivity and increased costs of temporary staff.
Jaluch advises establishing a clear absence management policy that gives employees information about how they will be managed and tells managers what they should be doing and when.
However, in contrast to these findings, the latest annual absence survey from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development showed that the lowest levels of absence were recorded in the south-east of England and London at 7.8 days, whereas in the north-east of England it reached 11.3 days.