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Ill health, social protection, labour relations, and sickness absence
  1. F G Benavides
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr F G Benavides
 Occupational Health Research Unit, Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, Spain; fernando.benavides{at}

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Commentary on the paper by Virtanen et al (Occup Environ Med, March 2006)*

Health and work have a bidirectional relationship. Hazardous work can produce negative effects on health, in terms of injury and disease. It is less evident that ill health, due to the work environment or not, can produce negative effects on work in terms of absenteeism and low productivity. Sickness absence is an expression of this complex relation. In the first place sickness absence is necessary for the recovery of ill workers,1 as part of the medical treatment, and as such it is certified by a physician. In a second and complementary perspective, sickness absence is a consequence of ill health on work in terms of absence from work. Indeed, it has been considered as an indicator to measure the working population’s health status,2 and also it may be considered as an indicator to measure the functioning of the companies.3 In other words, sickness absence might be considered as something else beyond simple …

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  • * Virtanen M, Kivimäki M, Vahtera J, et al. Sickness absence as a risk factor for job termination, unemployment, and disability pension among temporary and permanent employees. Occup Environ Med 2006;63:212–17.

  • Competing interests: none declared