Sick leave from work 'at highest level for a decade', with stress behind much of the increase

26 September 2023, 05:23

Sick leave has risen
Sick leave has risen. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

The average amount of time workers spend off sick from work is at the highest level in ten years.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Staff took an average of 7.8 days off sick from their jobs last year, up from 5.8 in the year before the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a survey.

Minor illnesses were the most common cause of short term absence, with musculoskeletal problems and mental ill health also big factors.

Some 76% of respondents to the survey said they had taken time off because of stress.

More than a third (37%) of organisations said Covid-19 was still a significant cause of short-term absence.

People are taking much more sick leave than before the pandemic
People are taking much more sick leave than before the pandemic. Picture: Alamy

The study was carried out by the Chartered Institute for Professional Development (CIPD) and Simplyhealth, a provider of health cash plans. They analysed sickness absence among 918 organisations, with 6.5 million employees.

The two organisations are calling on businesses to be more supportive about employees' health

Rachel Suff, senior employee wellbeing adviser at the CIPD, said: "External factors like the Covid-19 pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis have had profound impacts on many people's wellbeing.

"It's good to see that slightly more organisations are approaching health and wellbeing through a stand-alone strategy.

"However, we need a more systematic and preventative approach to workplace health.

Professional life coach explains how life coaching can help someone who is off work sick

"This means managing the main risks to people's health from work to prevent stress as well as early intervention to prevent health issues from escalating where possible."

Claudia Nicholls, chief customer officer at Simplyhealth said: "With record numbers of people off sick, employers have a vital role to play in supporting them through workplace health and wellbeing services.

"They can have a positive impact on the economy and ease pressure on the NHS.

"Despite an increasing number of workplace health and wellbeing services being put in place, employees are experiencing increasing mental health issues and the highest rate of sickness absence in a decade.

"However, focusing on fixing sickness alone is unlikely to uncover areas where any significant improvements can be made; companies need to implement preventative health and wellbeing strategies that are supported by the most senior levels of leadership and build line manager skills and confidence to support wellbeing."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Rudy Giuliani

Rudy Giuliani pleads not guilty in Arizona election interference case

Donald Trump

Trump campaign says it will begin accepting cryptocurrency contributions

Prince Harry 'turned down the King's invitation to stay at a royal residence'.

Prince Harry ‘turned down King’s offer to stay in royal residence’ during UK trip because it ‘didn't come with security'

A screenshot taken from AP video showing a general view of northern Gaza as seen from southern Israel, before it was seized by Israeli officials

Israel says it will return video equipment seized from news organisation AP

Craig Mackinlay has said he wants to be known as the first 'bionic MP' after losing both his arms and legs to sepsis.

‘I’m the bionic MP’: Craig Mackinlay says he’s ‘lucky to be alive’ as he reveals he lost both feet and hands to sepsis

Former US president Donald Trump sits in Manhattan Criminal Court in New York

Defence rests without Donald Trump entering witness box in hush money trial

A veterinarian feeds a young howler monkey rescued amid extremely high temperatures in Tecolutilla, Tabasco state, Mexico

Howler monkeys ‘falling out of the trees like apples’ in sweltering Mexico

Mobile coverage is being expanded across the network.

Full list of London Underground stations to receive phone signal this summer - is yours listed?

Prince William hosted a garden party on behalf of his father King Charles

Prince William hosts rain-soaked Buckingham Palace garden party in absence of King Charles

Jan A P Kaczmarek poses with the Oscar for best original score for his work on Finding Neverland during the 77th Academy Awards in February 2005 in Los Angeles

Composer Jan A P Kaczmarek, Oscar winner for Finding Neverland, dies aged 71

Lawbreaking from the extreme-left is just as bad from the extreme-right, Robin Simcox has told LBC.

Lawbreaking by Just Stop Oil is as bad as similar acts by extreme-right, Commissioner for Countering Extremism says

Fred Roos

Fred Roos, Godfather Part II producer and longtime Coppola collaborator, dies

Matthew Trickett, 37, who was on bail after appearing in court accused of assisting the Hong Kong intelligence service

Former Royal Marine charged with spying for China on Hong Kong activists found dead in park in 'unexplained death'

Smokes rise to the sky after explosions in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel

UN halts food distribution in Rafah due to lack of supplies and insecurity

57 cases of cryptosporidium have been confirmed in Brixham

More than 50 people in Devon ill from contaminated water as suppliers announce £3.5m compensation

A photographer takes a picture of the ancient bronze kneeling woman sculpture during a repatriation ceremony at National Museum in Bangkok, Thailand

Thailand welcomes return of antiquities from New York’s Metropolitan Museum