Employee Absence Effectively

Recent research by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) revealed that the government introduced ‘fit notes’ scheme had not delivered less instances of employee absence through unwarranted ‘sickies.’

The CBI’s Absence and Workplace Health Survey discovered that in 2010 the average employee took 6.5 days off sick, which was a slight increase of 0.1 days compared to the previous year’s figures.

Fit notes were introduced in 2010 to replace the sick note with the main change being that GPs were able to advise workers about how to return to work and report on the impact of their illness or injury.

The study found that 66 per cent of firms thought that fit notes had not encouraged their employees to return to work and 71 per cent did not believe that doctors were using them in a different way from the old sick note.

Employee absence resulted in the British economy losing 190 million working days, of which 30.4 million days were ‘sickies’, and this equated to £17 billion in lost revenue.

Katja Hall, CBI chief policy director, said that examples of unwarranted employee absence were damaging the economic recovery and employers must act to bring down levels of absence.

She said: “The gap between the best and worst has widened. The substantial costs of absence to the economy put a premium on managing longer-term absence well. There can be no room for complacency in addressing the so-called sick note culture.”

Employers must recognise that every employee will get ill occasionally but regular instances of absence must be tackled as for small businesses especially they can mean the difference between profit and loss.

Stress-related health problems are increasingly common so if an employee complains of this it is important to help them as they will feel less engaged and more likely to miss work if their employers do nothing to support them.

Increasing engagement through regular communication will enable managers to understand the professional and personal problems an employee may be experiencing, which can then be dealt with as quickly as possible.

Providing support will make an employee feel valued and this will encourage them to remain with an employers and motivate them return to work if they are forced to take time off due to illness.

The Greek Crisis Pushes Up the Dollar

The freshly brewing Greek financial crisis is not limited to the boundaries of Greece. Several other European banks from France and Germany have exposure amounting to nearly $ 125 billion. The German exposure to Greek debt includes €9.1 billion invested by Hypo Real Estate and €4.6 billion worth of Greek bonds held by Commerzbank.

The nervousness amongst investors was evident from the fact that several currencies dipped versus the dollar, including the Canadian dollar, which had recently flexed its muscles and gone above parity with the US dollar. However, the Greek crisis seems to have made the Canadian dollar pare some of its recent gains and it fell to below parity levels with the US dollar. The Australian and New Zealand dollars fell sharply against the US dollar suggesting that investors are turning risk averse due to the Greek outcome. The US dollar also rose versus the yen amongst other currencies. The Euro, which can be expected to the most affected due to it being the currency of denominations for the majority of Greek debt, also lost substantial grounds to the US dollar on the Greek rating downgrade. It appears that the dollar continues to dominate the world of currencies as the safe haven currency.

The Euro’s high exposure is the result of the ECB’s relaxed collateral rules prevalent since 2008, when the financial crisis intensified. These relaxed rules have proved a boon for Greek banks, which have used some of their Greek government holdings to secure cheap Euro loans. Now, with the Greek sovereign rating being cut, the value of the Greek bonds taken as collateral, is under question. As per a Moody’s report, Greek banks had about €68 billion in ECB funding at the end of March. While initially, the ECB’s lifeline extended to Greece may have helped contain the Greek debt crisis spreading to other parts of the world, the arrangement has its limitations. With Portugal also facing a downgrade, the possibility of a more widespread debt crisis is likely. If the ECB continues to salvage other debt ridden European nations, the value of the Euro could come under question.

However, not salvaging a crashing economy could have even worse implications for Europe and the Euro. Thus, the ECB along with Germany and the IMF are likely to be forced to offer a further bailout package to Greece, such that another round of financial turmoil is not created. All said and done, a sign of crisis anywhere seems to bring the US dollar sharply back into focus and it appears that the dollar still remains the preferred choice in times of economic upheaval.