• Michael F. Hilton Michael F. Hilton
  • Paul Scuffham Paul Scuffham
  • Judith Sheridan Judith Sheridan
  • Catherine Cleary Catherine Cleary
  • Harvey Whiteford Harvey Whiteford

Objective: Mental ill-health results in substantial reductions in employee productivity (absenteeism and presenteeism). This paper examines the relationship between employee psychological distress, employee type and productivity. Method: Utilizing the Health and Performance at Work Questionire, in a sample of 60,556 full-time employees, the impact that psychological distress (Kessler 6) imposes on employee productivity by occupation type is examined. Results: Comparison of white-collar workers absenteeism rates by low and high psychological distress reveals no statistically significant difference. Nevertheless, the same comparison for blue-collar workers reveals that high psychological distress results in an 18% increase in absenteeism rates. High K6 score resulted in a presenteeism increase of 6% in both blue and white-collar employees. Conclusion: The novel finding is that mental ill-health produces little to no absenteeism in white-collar workers yet a profound absenteeism increase in the blue-collar sector.