date: 8 December 2004
embargo: For immediate release
Attention: industrial and health correspondents, newsdesks, health and safety media
Welcoming the report from the Department of Work and Pensions and the Health and Safety Executive on managing sickness absence in the public sector, TUC Deputy General Secretary Frances OGrady said:
'The TUC supports positive efforts to reduce sickness absence, but believes these are most effective when targetted at preventing illness and supporting the rehabilitation of those workers who are off sick. Despite the widely held view that UK public sector workers are always taking time off work, the report shows that short-term sickness absence is much lower in the public than in the private sector and lower than in most other European countries. But the levels of long term sickness absence are still worryingly high.
'There are real gains to be made from tackling the causes of long-term absence, especially stress-related illnesses. The priority must be to find ways of getting those who are ill, healthy and back to work as early as is practical. The public sector is not good at providing occupational health support or access to rehabilitation, but the report contains few practical new proposals to deal with this."
NOTES TO EDITORS:
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Issued: 8 December, 2004