Sickness Absence Costs the UK Economy £100 Billion Each Year

sick note doctorNearly 650,000 workers call in sick each week, according to figures from the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

This figure equates to 2 per cent of the workforce being absent through illness at some point every week, which is estimated to cost the UK economy £100 billion per year.  The research comes from the BHF’s ‘Health at Work’ programme, which partners with 7,000 employers to help them create wellbeing initiatives for their workforce.

The findings suggest that public administration and the defence sector, including public sector roles, have the highest level of absence with around 51,000 people phoning in sick in a typical week.  This was three times the level reported in primary industries, such as farming.

The charity’s study found that for many people their ill-health limited their ability to do their job properly, even when they were able to make it in to work.  The figures revealed that 16 per cent of health problems among UK employees were related to heart and circulation conditions, while 6 per cent were linked to diabetes.

Lisa Purcell, project manager for the Health at Work programme said, “Sickness absence is a major concern for the health of our nation and costs businesses millions of pounds every year.

“The risk of numerous health conditions reported by workers, including coronary heart disease, can be significantly cut with improvements to their lifestyle.  Businesses that have prioritised workplace health have been able to create a healthier, more productive workforce with fewer days lost to sickness.”

Meanwhile, a survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) into absence management found that the number of employers making changes to working patterns in an attempt to reduce long-term absence levels had increased by 20 per cent over the last year.

More than 70 per cent of organisations said that this move was having a positive impact on employee motivation and employee engagement, while 46 per cent stated that they were using flexible working options to support employees with mental health problems.

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