The Leading News & Information Service For The Facilities, Workplace & Built Environment Community

Workplace Sickness Absence at Ten-Year High 

Workplace Sickness Absence at Ten-Year High 
27 September 2023
 

The highest level of UK employee sickness absence in a decade has been reported by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

UK employees were absent an average of 7.8 days over the past year, two whole days more than the pre-pandemic rate of 5.8 days, despite over a third of organisations reporting that COVID-19 remains a significant cause of short-term absence.

The survey, supported by Simply Health, analysed trends in sickness absence and employee health in 918 organisations between March and April 2023, representing 6.5 million employees. 

Most short term absences were caused by minor illnesses such as colds and flu, stomach upsets and headaches (94 per cent), musculoskeletal injuries (45 per cent) and mental ill health (39 per cent). Long term absences were attributed to mental ill health (63 per cent), acute medical conditions, such as stroke or cancer (51 per cent) and musculoskeletal injuries (51 per cent).

Musculoskeletal injuries are a particular concern in the construction sector, as recent figures show around 40,000 people in the industry suffer a musculoskeletal injury each year, which can cause years of agonising aches and pains.

 

Stress and the Cost of Living Causing Workplace Sickness?

 

Stress was also identified to be a significant cause for sickness absence, with over 76 per cent of respondents reporting stress-related absence in their organisation in the past year. Bodies such as The Mental Health Foundation believe that the current cost of living crisis will cause a mental health crisis on a similar scale to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

More positively, 53 per cent of organisations surveyed said they had a standalone wellbeing strategy, a slight increase from 50 per cent in 2021's survey.

Rachel Suff, Senior Employee Wellbeing adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said: “Despite our research showing that most organisations are focusing on employee wellbeing, the considerable rise in absences across all sectors is a worry. 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 standalone strategy. However, we need a more systematic and preventative approach to workplace health. 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. It’s important that organisations create an open, supportive culture where employees feel they can come forward.” 

Picture: a photograph of a person sitting up with their eyes closed, and their hand covering one of their eyes as if in despair. Image Credit: Unsplash

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 27 September 2023

Share



Related Articles

Home Working Highlights Culture of Presenteeism, says CIPD

77 per cent of employers have observed presenteeism in employees who are working from home in the last year, according to research by The Chartered...

 Read Full Article
Wellbeing and Mental Health Drops Down Business Agenda

Despite wellbeing remaining an ongoing concern for workers, CIPD research suggests that mental health is beginning to slip down the business agenda amongst...

 Read Full Article
Statutory Sick Pay Needs Urgent Reform, Says CIPD

The Statutory Sick Pay system is broken and needs urgent reform, the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, is warning.   The call to...

 Read Full Article
First International Guide on Psychosocial Hazards at Work Published

A new standard, named "ISO 45003: Occupational health and safety management — Psychological health and safety at work — Guidelines for managing...

 Read Full Article
WHO Study Shows Long Working Hours Kills 745,000 People a Year

In the first global analysis of the loss of life and health associated with working long hours, it's been shown that working excessive hours led to 745,000...

 Read Full Article
Allergy Awareness Week - Optimising Indoor Air Quality for Hay Fever Sufferers 

As allergy season gets underway, an indoor air quality monitoring company is introducing pollen level tracking to its app, to help employers learn how to make the...

 Read Full Article
World Sleep Day – Stress During the Pandemic

On World Sleep Day, research reveals that in the UK, roughly 75 per cent of people have experienced a change to their sleep patterns since March 2020. Friday 19 March...

 Read Full Article
Does National Sickie Day Still Exist?

National Sickie Day – does it still exist? Not according to the occupational health and business support specialist that claims to have coined the day some ten...

 Read Full Article
Healthy Workplace Awards Dished Up

64 businesses across London have been recognised for their efforts to achieve healthier, happier and more productive workplaces in the London Healthy Workplace...

 Read Full Article
Menopause Support in Workplaces Becomes Legal Right 

New guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission means that companies must provide reasonable workplace adjustments if menopause symptoms have a substantial...

 Read Full Article