Sickness Absence and Health in the Workplace: Understanding Employer Behaviour and Practice


This research provides a description of employer behaviours and practices relating to sickness absence and health in the workplace.


The research provides a description of the health and wellbeing initiatives used by employers and contributes to the growing evidence base.


It was commissioned to gain a better understanding of:

  • Behaviours and attitudes of employers in relation to health and wellbeing initiatives for employees.

  • The risks and costs faced by employers when implementing these.

  • Initiatives and the barriers preventing their implementation.

  • Approaches to sickness absence management.

  • Supporting employee retention and return to work.

  • Types of sick pay.

  • Occupational health provision.

The research was carried out prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. It combines quantitative survey data collected in June 2018 in Great Britain (GB), representative of employer size and sector, and qualitative interview data collected in July 2019.


Findings from this report are already being used to inform policy options related to occupational health and employer policy specifically through the development of proposals in the Health is Everyone’s Business consultation.


The following documents are available:

Department for Work and Pensions July 2021



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