News update – Transport for London targets well to drive down absence

Transport for London has begun a health and wellbeing pilot scheme with the aim of reducing high rates of sickness absence.

Around 1,100 staff at the metropolitan travel operator are currently taking part in the scheme that if successful could be rolled out to 19,500 staff next year.

Transport for London staff currently have access to discounted gym membership, while pilot participants get extra benefits such as access to a 24-hour health information line, online health advice, and free fruit. Future benefits could include stress management programmes and exercise classes.

Michele Martin-Taylor, head of HR services at Transport for London, claimed it was a new approach to absence management. She refused to disclose sickness absence rates, but admitted that they were high in some parts of the transport business.

“Instead of looking at a minority of people who take time off sick, we wanted to concentrate on the majority of people who attend work on a regular basis. We need to keep them well, so they maintain a good attendance record throughout their career,” she added.

The organisation will track the effect the new scheme has on sickness absence.