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Thursday, 11 May, 2000, 11:04 GMT 12:04 UK
Workplace absence costs 10.5bn

Work-related injuries and illness end hundreds of careers
The annual cost of workplace absence in the UK has risen to 10.5bn, while 500 people leave employment permanently every week because of work-related injuries or illness, according to two studies.


Absence is a huge cost to business and the worst performing firms have twice the absence rates of the best ones

John Cridland, CBI

They show that absence costs averaged 438 per worker last year, 12 higher than in 1998.

The studies were compiled for the Confederation of British Industry and the Trades Union Congress.

The TUC said there should be a new legal duty on employers to develop a back-to-work policy to help workers on prolonged sick leave.

General Secretary John Monks said the number of people whose working lives were ended by Repetitive Strain Injury, back strain or stress was "alarming".

"Ill-health is now the main cause of joblessness in the UK, and getting 500 people a week back to work is a major challenge," he said.

'Huge cost'

The CBI study found that employees took an average of 7.8 days off work through sickness last year, a fall from the figure of 8.5 days the previous year.

In total, 187 million working days were lost in 1999, 3.4% of working time.

John Cridland, the CBI's human resources policy director said: "Absence is a huge cost to business and the worst performing firms have twice the absence rates of the best ones.

"Most absence is caused by genuine minor illness, but it is important for firms to ensure unnecessary absence is reduced.

"Benchmarking performance against similar firms will reveal problem areas."

Employment Minister Margaret Hodge said the government was planning a series of projects to support workers moving on to Incapacity Benefit.

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