Good jobs – good for health
and good for business
London Works for Better Health – Bosses’ Business Breakfasts
“Reduce Absence, Reduce Costs”
in partnership with Neylon
Occupational Health Ltd
Keynote speaker: Sandra Neylon, Occupational Health Nurse Consultant
Since 2002 Tate & Lyle has reduced long-term sickness absence by 60% and ill-health
early retirement by 75%. By making some simple adjustments to working
arrangements it has enabled employees to return to work more quickly and safely,
improving their mental and physical health and saving the business money.
Wednesday 10th December 2008, 8.00am – 10.00am
Thames Refinery, Factory Road, Silvertown, London, E16 2EW
Senior business people from a range of employers in London attended the second in a series of
business breakfasts organised by the London Works for Better Health programme. Hosted by
Tate & Lyle in partnership with Neylon Occupational Health Ltd, the aims of the event were to:
• showcase Tate & Lyle’s work to create a healthier workplace and explore practical ways in
which London employers of all sizes could make their jobs healthier
• find out from London employers what they see as the challenges and opportunities of
developing healthier workplaces, (particularly in the current economic climate) in order to
help shape the next phase of the London Works campaign
Numbers at the event were deliberately restricted to ensure that the discussion was detailed
and practical and so that everyone had the opportunity to contribute their own views and
experiences of health at work.
Tate & Lyle presentation – key points
Sandra Neylon, Occupational Health Nurse Consultant at Tate & Lyle in partnership with Neylon
Occupational Health Ltd described how vocational rehabilitation had dramatically reduced
sickness absence at Tate & Lyle.
Summary of main points:
• Sickness absence is very expensive – 1% would cost Tate & Lyle £400,000 per year. Morale
is reduced and productivity goes down.
• The human cost is also high: national statistics show that 80% of people off sick for 6
months or more will never work again. If you are out of work for more than six-months,
your chances of committing suicide are 40 times higher than if you are working.
• Tate & Lyle therefore provides vocational rehabilitation as an alternative to sickness
absence. Working with the employee, the manager, the GP/Consultant (if necessary) and
the human resources team, a care pathway is be mapped out by Occupational Health to
ensure that employees are returned to health, work and efficiency at the earliest date.
• The rehabilitation programme may include reduced working hours, amended shifts, reduced
or alternative duties and transportation to work.
• Employee opinion surveys show that employee satisfaction is increasing as a result.
For a copy of the full presentation click here
Delegate discussion – key themes
Chair: Barry Francis, Partner, Pinsent Masons and chair of London Works for Better Health
• Implementing a rehabilitation programme as an alternative to sick notes requires a long-
term commitment to cultural change on the part of both senior managers and employees.
At Tate & Lyle this has included revising policies, liaising with unions, educating managers
and training staff as part of their induction into the company.
• Often people will make this cultural shift if they see positive examples of good practice
in this area – it only takes one!
• Small and medium businesses often feel daunted by the extra time they perceive will
be required to support people back to work in this way. However there is a strong business
case for bringing someone back to work to carry out (for example) 30% of their duties
rather than remaining at home on sick leave.
• Managers who do not have access to occupational health support (especially in SMEs) often
feel that they do not have sufficient knowledge or experience to assess the level of
work an employee who was on sick leave could undertake. Tate & Lyle in partnership with
Neylon Occupational Health Ltd offer local businesses the opportunity to buy into their
menu of occupational health services.
Possible future action for London Health Commission
• Produce and promote guidance for SMEs (perhaps via a web-based resource) on
facilitating an early, safe return to work. A helpline might also be helpful for SMEs.
• Broker agreements between large employees who have occupational health services they
are willing to share, and small/medium employers who would like to access them. This
could be piloted with a few SMEs in a particular geographical area before being promoted
• Explore partnerships with primary care trusts who might be willing to host the
provision of occupational health services to small/medium employers.
• Find an SME that has done good work in this area and support them to promote these
messages to other SMEs.