Over 4 million sick days in last 3 years

Dec 7, 2018


By Lyndsey Hall


Between 2014 and 2017, workers took 4.3 million sick days, according to research by Direct Line for Business . That’s 3,927 workers every day on average, meaning employers are losing an average of 1.4 million days of workers’ productivity every single year due to sickness.

According to the study, 568,000 days off over the three year period were due to an accident in the workplace, and 147,000 were off for more than seven consecutive days. In the construction industry alone, 392,000 days were lost as employees self-reported illnesses caused or exacerbated by their job.

Mental illnesses like stress, depression and anxiety were revealed to be a major reason for employees taking sick days, with more than 12.5 million days lost by more than 526,000 workers in the 2016/17 financial year alone. Other common ailments that prevented workers from attending their job included musculoskeletal disorders, breathing or lung issues, and upper limb or neck problems.

Matt Boatman, Head of Direct Line for Business, said, “Our research highlights that further improvements could be made to ensure productivity does not suffer due to sick days following accidents at work.

“Business owners should ensure they have the appropriate cover in place to cover them should they be liable for an accident occurring due to the work they are undertaking. Employers’ liability will cover them if an employee is injured, and public liability cover will be required in the event than an injury is caused to a third party.”

Direct Line also found that one in six firms reduce an employee’s wage to statutory sick pay after just four days of sick leave (the minimum legal requirement), and 30 per cent of HR professionals said the qualifying period for their company sick pay scheme was 1-2 years.

2.5 million workers are unaware that they would face a significant salary shortfall if they were unwell and unable to work. Many Brits assumed their employer would simply continue to pay their full salary if they were off sick, with people believing on average they would receive full pay for three and a half months before any reduction. In reality, 43 per cent of firms reduce an employee’s wages to statutory pay after two weeks.

Only 4 per cent of Brits were aware of how much sick pay they would receive, and 8 per cent had never even heard of statutory sick pay. In the UK, workers are eligible to receive £89.35 per week for up to 28 weeks, which is less than a fifth of the average UK weekly wage of £510.

92 per cent of HR professionals said their company would require formal documentation, such as a doctor’s note, to authorise any period of sickness. 36 per cent said they would need to see additional paperwork if the absence was for a more unusual reason.


How does your business manage employees’ sick leave? Has the number of days off your staff take due to illness had an impact on your productivity? We’d love to hear from you, leave a comment or chat with us on Twitter.


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