Sicknote Britain! Sickness absence figures reached the highest levels since 2008

UK sickness absence note

This week the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) reported that employees took an average of 7.8 days off sick over the past year – in the private sector that’s up from 5.8 days (2019) and is the highest level reached since 2008. The problem is worse among public sector workers, who are typically off sick for 10.6 days a year compared with their private sector colleagues. Showing a steep increase amongst all sectors.

While the data is new, the trend of increased absences has been growing for some time- undoubtedly, the number of people on long-term sick leave skyrocketed around the pandemic, however the latest figures echo those after the financial crash in 2008.

Supporting the theory that it’s not just viruses that are keeping people from the office: external factors have a profound impact on people wellbeing. After the crash, it was recession and job security. Today, it’s rising prices, inflation and cost of living crisis.

The news is reporting that ill-health is now contributing to the growing economic inactivity, with some calling for an urgent call to reform Britain’s sickness culture, offering social-not medical-solutions. Employers are urged to provide more flexibility to engage their workforce, but what does this actually mean? 

There is a juxtaposition -the traditional office setting is no longer suitable for the modern workforce, but remote working is causing workers to feel isolated and disconnected from the business.

As a business owner, I share sympathy- how does a responsible employer navigate the sensitivities of a supportive work environment, whilst maintaining “business as usual” for clients/ service demands? I have reached the conclusion that a standalone wellbeing strategy just isn’t enough; it must be part of a systematic and preventative approach. In my experience, increasingly businesses do not adequately collect and report on sickness data, they don’t know how to manage difficult conversations – not a criticism sometimes the “manager’s toolbox” doesn’t support them to do this. 

There is a wider “thinking” needed around culture and engagement.We want to talk to businesses that are struggling to manage absence, we are offering a no-obligation discussion and audit of your processes, if you are interested, please get in

01792 296178

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