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Acas urges UK businesses to keep healthy

Friday 28 March 2008

New advice published following review by National Director for Health & Work. Acas is urging businesses to save money and reduce absenteeism by focusing on ensuring employees are healthy at work.

The employment relations service has launched a new guide (pdf icon Advisory booklet - Health Work and Wellbeing [647kb]) to help businesses promote and manage a healthy workplace.

The launch of the new guide coincides with findings from a radical review of the health of the working age population released last week by National Director for Health and Work, Dame Carol Black.

The review revealed that ill health costs the British economy £100 billion. It also highlighted that businesses should seek to take early intervention by investing in improving the health and wellbeing of their staff, identify measures that will reduce ill-health and help staff to remain in work or quickly return to work after a period of absence.

Some of the key areas covered in the new Acas guide include:

  • How to recognise health problems with your employees
  • What makes a healthy workplace
  • A health, work and wellbeing checklist
  • Further sources of expert information on health, work and wellbeing

Ed Sweeney, Acas Chair commented: 'The review by Dame Carol Black shows that creating a healthy workplace has strong benefits for individuals and organisations. It also places a lot emphasis on the role early intervention can play in reducing the problem of ill health at work – this ties in strongly with Acas' 'prevention over cure' approach to dealing with wider employment issues."

"Work can have a positive impact on our health and wellbeing which in turn can boost productivity and effectiveness of a business. Our guide can help businesses to develop good workplace relationships so that managers are fully trained in people skills and employees are valued and content."

Key indicators of a healthy workplace:

  • Line managers are confident and trained in people skills
  • Employees feel valued and involved in the organisation
  • Managers use appropriate health services (e.g. occupational health) to tackle absence and help get people back to work
  • Managers promote an attendance culture by conducting return to work discussions
  • Jobs are flexible and well-designed
  • Managers know how to manage common health problems such as mental health and musculoskeletal disorders

Employers and employees can find further guidance throughout our website or by calling our national helpline 08457 47 47 47

Notes to editors

  1. Acas' aim is to improve organisations and working life through better employment relations. It provides information, advice, training and a range of services working with employers and employees to prevent or resolve problems and improve performance. It is an independent statutory body governed by a Council consisting of the Acas Chair and employer, trade union and independent members.

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Source of statistics:

Every year three in ten employees experience mental health problems: The Royal Society of Psychiatrists

Estimated stress related sick leave costs the UK industry £370 million every year or approximately 91 million working days: Mental Health Foundation