Reducing workplace absenteeism

The Caisse Nationale d’Assurance Maladie (CNAM) recently published data on changes in the overall amount of daily injury benefits paid. For January 2018 alone, there was an 8% increase over January 2017 and a 5.2% rise over the last 12 months. In all, illnesses with work stoppage last year cost the general health insurance fund over 10.3 billion Euro.


Two-thirds of the increase in Incapacity scheme costs come from a higher number of days of work stoppage and one-third of the increase comes from higher benefit rates. However, the CNAM tool seems ill suited because it does not include in its analysis any news indicators such as the reasons for stoppage, changes in the control policy or the impact of retirement reforms.


In 2016, the national absenteeism rate was 4.59%, or an average of 16.8 days of absence, with variations by business sector:
> Service: 5.48% (or 20 days)
> Healthcare: 5.04% (or 18.4 days)
> Retail: 4.30% (or 15.7 days)
> Construction/manufacturing: 3.43% (or 12.5 days)


A great variety of factors explain the change in daily benefits, including working conditions, ageing of the population, epidemiological context, policy on controlling insured parties and the generosity of the benefits system. Finally, in a period of declining unemployment rates, the changes in the working population (age, training, etc.) may be a determining factor.



Diagnosing the causes and adjusting coverage


In accordance with sector-wide agreements, collective incapacity schemes are a major component of social protection and make it possible to guarantee income security for employees.


Because work stoppages directly affect the organisation of operations in the company and its economic performance, it is in the employer’s interest to adjust its coverage and adapt it to its corporate culture and industrial organisation (programmes per employee category or for the entire staff, etc.).


Furthermore, since the end of designation clauses and the ruling by the Constitutional Council of 13 June 2013, they can freely choose their insurer by incorporating an oversight requirement to prevent and control its risks and the budgets allotted.


Detailed analysis of the technical accounts (or earnings) for Incapacity contracts makes it possible to understand the absenteeism phenomenon within the company, its various sites and among its teams and to diagnose its causes in order to propose corrective measures and assistance with return to work, to secure the schemes in place.


It is also possible to compare the absenteeism rates to the national average, to the business sector or to the geographic area, in particular by using sector-wide benchmarks.



Different paths to fight absenteeism


Given the challenges of absenteeism and its high social and economic cost, the only efficient approach is to articulate the different solutions.


Sensitization of medical personnel
Before devising coercive measures to fight unwarranted work stoppages, in 2015 the CNAM launched a campaign to raise awareness among physicians by reminding them of the average lengths of work stoppages for different pathologies.


Tools at the heart of the company

Improve quality of life at work: by focusing its efforts on HR innovations, prevention, safety and health in the workplace.


Medical monitoring of work stoppages: by implementing controls of work stoppages. A guarantee for the employer which can be an alternative or complementary element to better manage the absenteeism risk and related costs.


Assistance with returning to work: by facilitating the employee’s resumption of duties. Distance from the company can make the resumption of duties difficult. It may be worthwhile to propose services to assist employees with returning to work after a stoppage related to a long illness.