THE government will this week announce an independent review into sickness absence in the workplace, to be co-headed by David Frost, head of the British Chambers of Commerce.
He will be joined by Dame Carol Black, who in 2008 led a review that estimated a £100bn cost to the economy from illness-related absence and worklessness.
The review culminated in the new “fit note” system being promoted by the Department for Work and Pensions, whereby doctors advise people how to return to work while safely recuperating.
The average cost of absence is far higher in the government sector, where occupational sick pay schemes are “most generous,” according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
“The median cost per employee in the public sector is £889, more than twice that in the manufacturing and production sector (£400),” the CIPD found. In both private sector services companies and non-profit organisations, the average annual cost of sickness is £600 per employee.
And the NHS itself could save £555m a year by reducing sickness absence, according to the think tank Reform.