The number of working days lost to UK workers being ill has climbed to a record high of around 185.6m, Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show. The sickness rate, which calculates the proportion of working hours lost because of sickness, climbed to 2.6%, the highest level since 2004. Working days lost due to sickness per worker hit 5.7. Yael Selfin, chief economist at KPMG UK, said the increase in working hours lost due to illness “signals further deterioration in the country’s production potential, and if continued, further decline in long term economic growth.” While the ONS report shows that minor illnesses, like colds and flu, accounted for around 29% of all sick days, Investec economist Sandra Horsfield said she had a “strong hunch” that the ongoing prevalence of Covid was the main reason behind the rise. The ONS notes a big rise in chronic sickness since the beginning of the pandemic but James Smith, a developed markets economist at ING, said the main factor driving up the absence rate was temporary sickness. Paul Nowak, general secretary of the TUC, said: “These figures should not be misread as showing the sickness rate for working people. They miss out on many workers with little choice but to work while ill. This includes low-paid workers excluded from sick pay entitlement and those who can’t get by on just £110 a week – the miserly rate for statutory sick pay.”
The Evening Standard
Matthew Pinto-Chilcott, FCIPD, ACEL comments: “Sick days within any business need to be managed correctly and the right action taken by the company, management and team. Failure to manage sickness can result in bad moral amongst the team and the member involved and a sickness and policy procedure applicable to all should be included. We also encourage the use of the Bradford Index and IT package with a back to work interview so that all businesses can demonstrate that the welfare of their teams is of the utmost importance and managed accordingly.
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