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Flexible working ‘could cut £1m cost of staff absences’


UK companies are losing an average of £1 million a year to staff absences that could be tackled with flexible working, research has found.

The rate of sickness and other absences at large businesses could be significantly reduced if they offered more flexible working patterns for staff who do not work from home such as nurses, builders and supermarket check-out staff. This is according to economic modelling by the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) think tank for Timewise, the flexible working consultancy.

The think tank analysed the rate of absenteeism and sickness at companies that employed more than 1,000 workers in five sectors: nursing, teaching, construction, retail and social care. The sectors represent eight million workers.

About 95 per cent of the workers in question do not have any input into when they work or their shift pattern, with just over a quarter of those leaving on average each year, incurring costs for the companies to replace them.

Firms are raising pay and changing recruitment practices but are not looking at job design, according to Tony Wilson, director of the IES, and not thinking about flexible working.

Emma Stewart, co-founder of Timewise, said: “Better job design at scale will improve workers’ wellbeing, job satisfaction rates and ultimately loyalty to their employer.”

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