Royal Mail sick leave down 11 per cent

Royal Mail has seen a reduction in its sickness absence levels despite receiving significant criticism for its stick and carrot approach to the problem. The organisation, which introduced a prize draw in August 2004 to help its 190,000 staff reduce the number of sick days taken, has since seen sickness absence levels drop by 11%.

Last month employees that did not have any sick days in the specified period shared out some 37 new cars and 60 holidays. Jon Allen, head of employee relations at Royal Mail, said: "We are regaining control of absence." He said that the scheme had helped create a huge debate within the organisation and it is currently evaluating all aspects of it. He added: "Posties getting up at 5am in the rain does require some incentivisation." Royal Mail is also introducing a number of processes to further improve the health of its workforce, such as helping managers solve problems before the need for occupational health treatment. It is also currently negotiating a new contract with its outsourced occupational health service, Atos. The contract is also being discussed with trades unions.

It hopes to introduce a physiotherapy service for all staff at the end of this month. The service, which is currently being piloted in one area of the business, has seen a very positive return on investment and the Royal Mail hopes this can be replicated across the organisation, where 40% of its absence is muscular-skeletal.