77% of manufacturing organisations are aware of the Fit for Work service

Terry-Woolmer

More than three-quarters (77%) of employer respondents in the manufacturing sector are aware of the government’s Fit for Work service, and 7% of these respondents have used it, according to research by manufacturers’ organisation, EEF.

Its Employee health: making industrial strategy work for Britain report, which surveyed 264 manufacturing organisations that employ a total of 57,059 employees, also found that the sickness absence rate for employees working in the manufacturing sector in 2016 was 2.3%, representing an average of 5.2 days per employee lost to sickness absence.

The research also found:

  • 24% of respondents who are aware of the Fit for Work service would not use it.
  • 46% of respondents are aware of the Fit for Work service and would consider using it.
  • 36% of respondents rely entirely on the NHS to provide medical treatment for their employees.
  • 80% of respondents have access to some sort of occupational health provision.
  • 46% of respondents that are taking steps to maintain or enhance the health and wellbeing of employees over the age of 50 do so through flexible-working arrangements, 32% provide workplace modifications, 28% arrange health promotions, 27% offer phased retirement schemes for staff over 50 years old, and 28% run health promotion initiatives.
  • 47% of respondents think that the financial incentive most likely to encourage them to pay for an employee health and wellbeing programme is an employer and government matched funding approach.
  • 40% of respondents do not provide training in the management of sickness absence, disability, mental ill-health or musculoskeletal disorders.
  • 57% of respondents provide training for managers on short-term sickness absence, and 46% provide management training on long-term sickness absence.
  • 37% of respondents believe better access to practical information would help them recruit and retain staff with disabilities or long-term health conditions, and 28% believe financial incentives would help.
  • 36% of respondents report that there are no barriers to the recruitment and retention of individuals with disabilities or long-term health conditions.

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Terry Woolmer (pictured), head of health and safety at EEF, said: “Keeping people fit, healthy and productive is a key element of improving the UK’s productive performance for the overall benefit of the UK economy. While the Fit for Work service has a key role to play as part of this, [organisations] are clearly not persuaded of the benefits of using it, either because they already have some form of occupational health provision or they are content to rely on the NHS.

“As such, government needs to review its work and health priorities as part of the development of the wider industrial strategy. This would help improve the productive potential of the economy and reduce the burden on an overstretched NHS.”