Why should employers be concerned with managing return to work?

There are immediate problems that employers and employees face when absenteeism occurs which demand a response.  For the employer these include:


In the short term:

  • Unpredicted disruption to the work process
  • Loss of productivity
  • The need to implement administrative procedures to deal with the absence
  • The costs of sick pay


In the longer term:

  • Major disruption to the work process
  • The need to redeploy other employees
  • Opportunity costs
  • Possible replacement costs
  • The loss of a valued employee


Employees also face problems when health related absence occurs.  These include loss of income, loss of social contact and disruption to family and social life.  In the longer term, they may also face long term unemployment, permanent income loss and long-term disability.


If these problems are immediate, it is clear from longer term trends in the labour force and society at large that health related absence is likely to become a more common phenomenon.  The ageing of the workforce, the increase in retirement age and the growing presence of workers with chronic illness all point towards the need to take a proactive and positive approach to the management of absence and the improvement of return to work practices.


The costs of absence are significant - in 2010, Eurofound estimated that the direct costs of absence in Ireland was between €1.1 and €2 billion per annum, or c. 1% of GDP. 



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