Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to focus on the associations of employees’ attitudes and human resource arrangements to sickness absence from the perspective of absence culture and work ability. Design/methodology/approach – The study was conducted in one of the largest food industry companies in Finland. Sickness absence register data were obtained from the years 2003 to 2005 and a survey from 2005. This survey included single propositions about work arrangements (five propositions) and attitudes (three propositions) during sickness absence. These were analysed by absence days and short (1‐7 days) and long spells (>7 days). Findings – The attitude of blue‐collar workers who agreed that it is a matter of course that someone is absent was statistically significant regarding sickness absence. They had increased risk for sickness absence days and for short spells. From work arrangements during absence the fact that jobs will wait returning to the workplace decreased the risk for short and long sickness absence spells in both groups. In addition, the fact that the employer will take a substitute during workmates’ absence increased the risk for all measured sickness absence rates among white‐collar workers. Practical implications – These findings should be noted in enterprises’ human resource management and occupational health services to manage and understand sickness absence. Originality/value – Although sickness absence has been widely studied, very little is known about sickness absence related work arrangements and attitudes associated with sickness absence. This study increases knowledge about these issues.
International Journal of Workplace Health Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 21, 2013
Keywords: Absenteeism; Occupational health and safety; Workplace health management; Employees behaviour; Finland