New data reveal rates of sickness absence in the UK

posted by 4 weeks ago in Features
Staff Sickness Rates UK

New data just released by the ONS shows the latest rates of absence in the UK workplace for 2018, covering comparison to previous years, absence by location and reasons cites for sickness amongst others.

Which part of the UK has the most ‘Sickies’?

It may not come as a surprise that London has the lowest rate of absence from sickness at just 1.4% of all working hours lost to sickness – with Scotland and Wales achieving the ‘Most sick’ status in the study, with a whopping 2.4% of working hours lost equally!

How did your region fare?

City 2018 % 2017 %
North East 2.1 2.1
North West 2.2 2.3
Yorkshire and The Humber 2.3 2.1
East Midlands 2.2 1.8
West Midlands 2.0 2.2
East of England 1.9 1.7
London 1.4 1.1
South East 1.9 1.8
South West 2.1 1.9
Wales 2.4 2.4
Scotland 2.4 2.1
Northern Ireland 1.5 2.0

In England the highest levels of sickness absence come from Yorkshire – maybe all that country air isn’t so healthy after all?

Who took more sick days, men or women?

Unfortunately for women, they retain the crown for the highest number of sick days – however we should remember that pregnancy related illness probably accounts for a sizeable chunk!

(Data: absence rate is % of working hours lost due to sickness)

Gender 2018 % 2017 %
Male 1.5 1.6
Female 2.4 2.5

Public Sector Vs Private Sector

It is a very interesting statistic revealed within this data that public sector employees consistently take more days off work sick than their private sector counterparts!

One explanation for this might be that public sector employees such as teachers, nurses and law enforcement routinely come into contact with large numbers of people, many of whom will be very young, elderly or vulnerable to every day coughs and colds. Anyone who has ever worked in a school will be all too familiar with the plethora of bugs banded around the classroom!

It may also be suggested that employment in the public sector are perceived as being more secure – a private sector employee might be more anxious at the prospect of losing their job if they take too many days off sick.

(Data: absence rate is the % of working hours lost due to sickness)

2018 2017
Public 2.7 2.6
Private 1.8 1.7

Sickness rates are falling

While 2018 showed a spike in sickness absences, the general trend across the last decade shows a fall from an average of 5.3 days sickness per worker in 2008, to an average of 4.4 in 2018 (the lowest number of sickness absences were reported in 2017, with an average if 4.1 days per worker)

However, while absences relating to coughs and colds may be in decline – this data does evidence an increase in the number of reported illnesses with mental health cited as a reason, signalling trouble for employers in the future where adequate consideration is not given towards their employees mental health.

Here at BusinessComparison, employees mental health and wellness is one of our top priorities, with a number of initiatives designed to provide work-life balance such as Pilates classes at work, bring our dog to work, flexible working and a generous holiday allowance!

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