Sick leave statistics fall again

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The amount of Norwegians off the job on paid sick leave authorized by doctors has fallen to 5.8 percent of the workforce, the lowest level in seven years. Both employers and labour unions are delighted, as is the government minister in charge of labour and welfare issues.

“This is very good news,” said a visibly pleased Hanne Bjurstrøm, who, as Norway’s labour minister, had made it a priority to bring down sick leave levels. She called the new numbers “inspiring” and credits, among other things, new rules that took effect July 1. They involve closer follow-up of workers out on sick leave, with obligatory meetings between employers, employees and their doctors. The state has also imposed new degrees of sick leave, that allow reduced time at work instead of total absence.

Overall sick leave, including those who have called in sick with no doctor’s authorization, was 6.6 percent during the third quarter, down 5 percent from the same quarter last year. Knut Aarbakke of the large employees’ organization Akademikerne also said he was “very glad” about the reduction in sick leave, and credited the closer cooperation between employers and employees.

The largest reductions in sick leave were found in the industrial sector (down 11.8 percent), among agricultural, fisheries and forestry workers (down 10.7 percent) and retailing (down 9.1 percent). There was a rise in sick leave within the mining business (up 9.7 percent), but with only 1.4 percent of the workforce involved in mining, it didn’t have a major impact on overall statistics.

State welfare agency NAV said the actual numbers of people out on sick leave was unchanged, but the length of their absences was sharply reduced.

Views and News staff