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Small firms made of strong stuff

Date 13 Nov 2006
Author The Editor

Workers in small businesses are less likely to take sick days, according to new research. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has published research detailing the impact of ill-health on small firms.

The key finding from the survey is that the average number of days small businesses lost to absence per employee was 1.8 days. This is compared to the 8.4 days average in businesses of all sizes as reported by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. In the public sector the average is 11.3 days.

Many small businesses paint a positive picture, with 43% of firms having no sickness absence in the past year. Business owners take an average of 3 days sick leave per year and many are under pressure to continue to work through sickness to ensure the continuity of the business. However, unexpected absences hit small businesses the hardest. Without any warning a small firm can find itself without a large proportion of its workforce.

Mary Boughton, FSB National Health and Safety Chairman, said: “The report demonstrates the team spirit that runs through small firms with staff and owners more likely to be at work to keep the business running. However, it also identifies ways in which small businesses can be better supported to safeguard their employees’ health.

Ms Boughton recommended that the Government and healthcare professionals should consider the well-being of small firms and their employees more carefully. “The health of the UK economy depends on it,” she added.

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