Sickness Absence And Rise In Self Employment

In 2012 some of the business pages published news of a very interesting story on the subject of  some figures published by the UK Government’s Office For National Statistics regarding UK employment .

Despite the economic downturn, on the whole the country’s employment figures indicate that things appear to be moving in the right direction, with total employment figures rising since the previous quarter.

Also of note in 2012 were the figures for self-employment – which has grown to record levels over the past few years. These continued to remain healthy, with the Chartered Institute for Personnel & Development’s spokesperson saying tha the numbers of self-employed have ‘underpinned’ the rise in the numbers of those in work.

Of course, being self-employed in the 21st century can sometimes have a different meaning compared to even couple of decades ago. In previous times, self-employment was more confined to certain types of jobs, such as owning and running a shop, hairdressing salon, or catering outlet. These days many people who are self-employed are able to carry out the same or similar roles to the ones that they performed for a large company, but due to redundancy or other reasons, they continue to provide the same skills except on a freelance basis.

Self-employment obviously also means that as your own boss, you’re responsible for everything that happens within the business, from the top down (or vice versa). This is a challenge, certainly, but one that many self-employed people welcome, as they have more choice about how things are done within the business.

Being one’s own boss often shows up in surveys as being linked to low sickness absence. Part of this is undoubtedly down to the fact that many sole traders simply don’t want to leave their business unattended when they are unwell with a minor ailment.

Self-employed  business owners and  can purchase medical cover can help ensure that sickness time is minimised in the case  of needing any medical treatment they’re covered for. For slightly larger SME type businesses group health insurance cover is available, so employees can be covered too.

It could well be that the next time there’s an independent review of sickness absence, the high numbers of self-employed people will mean that the area of sickness absence within this segment is  addressed. And hopefully  some ways will be found for making sure that people who run their own business can help ensure that they’re not presenting to work when unwell.

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About the author: Jen Jones blogs on workplace wellbeing and group health insurance, and also has a special interest in stress management techniques.

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