Remote working can reduce sickness absence

As working from home policies continue through the UK, a Scottish council has discovered an unexpected effect of the enforced emptying of their offices.

West Lothian council had already begun trying to reduce their long-term sickness absence rates when the COVID-19 lockdown was announced. Currently they run a range of programmes including the Employee Assistance Programme a 24-hour helpline, and a financial support service as well as a chaplain for provide any pastoral care.

In the future they are planning to develop specialist training and hire more HR staff for health and welfare support.

Since working from home was enforced, the council’s rates of sickness absence have reduced. However, the number of sickness absences which are due to stress and mental health issues have remained high. Most of these results are due to personal stressors, and likely affected by the lockdown and pandemic.

A report to the committee said: “Whilst overall absence rates have reduced since the Covid-19 pandemic, mental and behavioural absences have remained high and now account for 38.32 per cent of all absence over the period April 1 to July 31 with stress being the top reason in this category.

It added: “During the review period, those cases of absence where the source of the stress was specified, 42 per cent related to personal stress factors while 15 per cent specified work-related factors. A further four per cent specified both personal and work-related factors. The remaining thirty-nine per cent was non-specified.

“The main factors recorded as accounting for personal stress (non-work related) were bereavement and carer responsibilities. The other cases were wide ranging and included stress arising from health worries, awaiting medical test results and family, domestic issues.”


It is vital to measure, monitor, and report on sickness absences. It isn’t just tick-box data; it is information that can help you to understand and manage your workforce more effectively.

Tensor plc supplies an extensive range of solutions designed specifically to help employers thoroughly monitor and manage absence, with our flagship Tensor.NET integrated workforce management solution incorporating a dedicated Absence Planning and Entitlement Management feature.

Our comprehensive, yet user-friendly software comes pre-loaded with graphical calendar charts that provide a colourful way of viewing an individual’s or a department’s absence records.

Each employee can be allocated different entitlements for absence such as annual leave or allowed sickness. As absence is booked and taken, the remainder available for each entitlement is updated. Entitlement formulae are used to calculate more complex entitlements calculated on a rising scale based upon length of service.

Tensor.NET supplies the relevant managers with information on employee’s absences through warning email notifications or via hardcopy reports. After that, the system would rapidly identify missing employees that are expected to be at work and then informs you via automatic email reporting reports distributed by email.

If you’d like to find out more about the Tensor workforce management solutions, just contact our team or Book a Demo. We’ll be more than happy to answer all of your questions and queries.

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