Sickness absence in workplaces: Does it reflect a healthy hire effect?
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Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden (Institute of Environmental Medicine, Unit of Occupational Medicine)
Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden (Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs)
Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden (National Centre for Work and Rehabilitation, Department of Medical and Health Sciences)
Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden (HELIX Vinn Exellence Centre)
Corresponding author
Karin Nordström   

Karolinska Institutet, Institute of Environmental Medicine (IMM), C6, Occupational Medicine, Solnavägen 4, Plan 10, 113 65 Stockholm, Sweden
Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2016;29(2):315-30
Objectives: Sickness absence in workplaces may reflect working conditions. It may also reflect a “healthy hire effect,” i.e., that workplaces recruit individuals with experience of sickness absence differently. The purpose of the study was to determine if a history of sickness absence among recruits is associated with the average level of sickness absence in workplaces. Material and Methods: In a register-based follow-up study, Swedish workplaces with at least 5 employees in 2006 were selected (approximately 127 000 workplaces with 3.9 million employees). The workplaces were categorized according to the average workplace sickness absence in 2006 and the recruits were categorized according to the individual sickness absence in 2005. The workplaces with a high average level of sickness absence were more likely than those with a low level to hire employees with high sickness absence in the year preceding employment: men – odds ratio (OR) = 7.2, 95% confidence interval (CI): 6.6–7.8, women – OR = 7.5, 95% CI: 6.9–8.1. Results: The results show that there is a greater likelihood of employing individuals with high levels of sickness absence in the workplaces with many days of the average sickness absence than in the workplaces with few days of the average sickness absence. Conclusions: The results suggest that sickness absence in workplaces may reflect a healthy hire effect.
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