Sickness Absence

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2005 National Delegate Conference
21 February 2005

Conference notes:

1)that employers are adopting increasingly draconian procedures which allow for an increase in the disciplining and dismissal of genuinely ill employees;

2)that it is often the case that the same employers are failing to abide by health and safety procedures or the Disability Discrimination Act;

3)that one of the single largest causes of genuine sickness absence has been identified as stress. For many workers their sickness absence can be traced back to the workplace;

4)that it is clear that the employers’ actions are the cause of sickness absence for many genuinely ill employees. Vacant posts, increased workloads, long hours, workplace conditions, constant uncertainty and reorganisations and a failure to deal with bullying and harassment will all have a direct effect on sickness levels;

5)that the increasingly draconian sickness procedures being adopted by employers must be seen in the same contexts as the attack on public sector pensions. Workers being forced to work longer, often under stressful conditions will have a deteriorating effect on health. The proposal to change the criteria for ill-health retirement which make the conditions harder for workers to satisfy also has to be taken into account;

6)that employers are adopting a league table approach to sickness with employers competing to see who had the lowest sickness levels. This approach encourages disciplinaries and dismissals as a way of getting quick results;

7)that while continuing to fight on a case by case basis our union must also fight this attack on a national collective basis.

Conference agrees:

a)to condemn the employers’ league table approach;

b)to demand that employers tackle the root causes of work-related sickness;

c)that the employers must accept their responsibilities and their role in causing workplace sickness and take real measures to prevent it. Not disciplinaries and sackings but proper staffing levels, no vacant posts, preventing long work hours, dealing properly with stress and work overload, abiding by health and safety and the Disability Discrimination


d)that until the employers take this approach Conference agrees to oppose the disciplining or sacking of genuinely ill workers.