There are many reasons why an employee may be absent from work for anything from a single day to a period of a few months. These may be down to a simple sickness, a family event or holiday, or problems with vehicles/travel. However, one cause of absence seems to be getting ever more common throughout the UK, namely the caring responsibilities of employees in regards to young children and elderly or sick relatives
Employer research conducted by GRiD Group Risk Development recently sought to examine to scope of the issue, and found that for many employers caring responsibilities have become the leading cause of absences within their workforce.

The report revealed that home and family issues, which often relate to caring issues or the breakdown of care arrangements, are resulting in a high number of absences from work and a subsequent drop in productivity in the office. More specifically, these absences tend to be a result of the provision of care to children and the elderly. A staggering 61% of employers cite the aforementioned issues as the leading cause of short-term absence, defined as anything up to 4 weeks. This figure drops slightly to 49% in the case of mid-term absence (4 weeks to 6 months), and sits at a comparatively low yet still problematic 42% in regards to long-term absence, defined as anything in excess of 6 months.

Such issues, commitments and stresses can also become a contributory factor in the development of mental illness, the report goes on to state. This is a problem for not only the affected individual but also their place of work, as mental health issues are also considered to be one of the leading causes of workplace absences.  17% of employers mention poor mental health as a main cause of short-term absence, and this figure may in fact have been artificially lowered as individuals will often give a different reason as to why they were absent. Furthermore, mental health issues are a leading cause of mid-term absence for 36% of employers, while 42% cite such issues as the primary cause of long-term absence.

There are some measures you can take in an attempt to counteract the aforementioned issues, with flexible working being implemented by 36% of surveyed employers in a direct assault on absences caused by caring responsibilities. Other measures you could take include the provision of on-site day-care facilities for staff, offsetting the expense of such facilities with gains in productivity from a present and active workforce.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD said of the report, “Employers know they need to address this issue, and flexible working is a good starting point, but it doesn’t go far enough for many. Employers may be at a loss as to what else they can do, and the solutions are far from simple.

“The good news is that there is a wealth of support available within group risk products (employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness). This can include specific support for carers, access to advice, fast-track access to counselling and signposting to support groups.

“Group risk products are not just about providing financial support; they have been developed to support employees in all aspects of their health and wellbeing. Employers that encourage the use of these support services as they are intended – every day if needed, even if a claim is never made – are the ones that get the best value and who are supporting their caring population most effectively.”

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.
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