Allergy absence about to hit annual high

Posted on: July 11th, 2016

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According to figures recently reported on the HR Review website, UK businesses are set to lose £455 million across July and August, the highest months for absences associated with allergies.

Research by absence management company FirstCare, who has been monitoring workplace absence trends over the past nine years, found that the UK loses approximately 3.2 million working days each year due to allergy-related absences. And now, the firm is warning employers to prepare themselves for the worst two months of allergies in the year.

The figures are based on data from some 167,000 UK employees, across all sectors of the economy. They suggest that allergy-related absences will increase by a staggering 75% in July and August, compared with other months in the calendar; and with the average length of an allergy absence lasting 3.66 working days, this is likely to cause headaches for numerous businesses.

In terms of the financial impact, in July alone it will cost employers around £231 million; while in August costs could reach £225 million. Taking into account costs relating to sick pay, replacement staff and lost productivity and revenue, the cost of allergies mounts up to £1.8 billion each year, says the UK’s leading expert on absence.

FirstCare’s COO, James Arquette, also points out that this is without factoring in longer-term causes of absence that allergies play a part in, such as flu, throat issues, respiratory conditions and gastrointestinal problems.

So, what can bosses do to prepare for this influx of sniffles and sneezes? Well, it is possible for organisations to significantly reduce their allergy-related absences, through sensible absence management processes.

Both employers and employees must take measures to reduce the impact of allergies during allergy season, Arquette advises. As well as being pro-active when it comes to self-care and treatment, they can seek advice from their GP on allergy treatment and obtain more information from the charity Allergy UK.

“Organisations should also use the opportunity to review absence processes, making sure they’re publicising health and wellbeing offerings to employees and supporting managers with return-to-work interviews,” said Arquette.

“A few hours spent on process reviews will pay dividends as it will reduce recurring absence rates.”

Do you have any problems with staffing or absence rates at your company? Get in touch with us here at Lucy Bristow to see how we can help.

Image: Goodbye by Lennart Tange available under the (CC BY 2.0) license

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