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Monday 18th June 2018

Draft guidance on absence management from NICE

6th January 2009

New draft guidance has been produced by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) to try to reduce the number of working days lost in the UK because of sickness.


The first draft of NICE’s public health guidance on long-term sickness absence management is aimed at primary care services and occupational health professionals.

Sickness in the UK currently costs the economy £12bn a year with 175 million days lost annually.

Back pain, stress and mental health conditions are among the major causes of workplace absence.

In addition, being away from work is often associated with ill-health and has a further economic impact on the economy costing further billions of pounds.

The NICE document notes that once someone has been off work for more than six months they have an 80% chance of being off work for five years.

NICE recommends that employers and health professionals work together to tackle sickness absence. There has also been input from the Trades Union Congress.

The document suggests that a first step in a case of long-term sickness is to undertake an early assessment of the worker, ideally between two and six weeks into the absence and before 12 weeks has passed.

Following an occupational health assessment, a case worker could be assigned to co-ordinate any occupational or rehabilitation interventions.

The next stage would be to work out a set of interventions with the employee to agree a return to work programme and then deliver those interventions with follow-up sessions as necessary.


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