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CIPD findings on stress levels in UK workplaces fail to provide real quantitative data, say absence management experts

Absence management consultants have challenged the CIPD's findings that stress levels among UK employees have soared over the past year, giving rise to long-term absence across all sectors.

Yesterday the CIPD and Simplyhealth claimed over a third (35%) of employers have reported stress-related absence has increased over the past year and is the main cause of persistently high levels of long-term public-sector absence.

But absence management consultant FirstCare has argued the percentage by which absence has increased is not disclosed in the CIPD report.

Aaron Ross (pictured) FirstCare’s CEO said: "Surely this statistic is a key measure to the state of employee health and wellbeing across the UK and should be provided, especially when the news release relies on this finding for its story?
"Because of this omission, we have reviewed our real-time absence data from September 2009 and compared it with September 2010. Our database shows that stress-related absence was the cause of 13% of absences across the public and private sectors in 2009 and increased by a mere 1% this year. This is exactly the type of minimal difference we would expect to see at this time of year.
"Again it seems that there is too much focus on generating ‘shock’ headlines without much thought about what this actually means for organisations in the UK. While regular reporting on the causes and length of absence and how much this costs employers is important to understand, what does this really add to the debate on how we tackle high levels of absenteeism?
"Surely it is time we moved away from the qualitative survey’s and headline grabbing to a more sophisticated debate which uses real quantitative data and attempts to offer clear support to organisations who wish to reduce their absence levels."

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