I was interested to see that recent figures show sickness absence in the UK to be at its lowest rate since records began in 1993. A total of 137.3 million days were lost to sickness absence, equivalent to 4.3 days per worker.
However, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which carries out the survey suggested that an ageing workforce and increase in the number of part-time employees may lead to changes in the future.
Here is how some of the figures break down:
• Companies with 500 or more employees saw more sickness days (2.5%) than companies with fewer than 25 people (1.6%)
• Self-employed people recorded a lower absence rate (1.1%) than employees (2.1%)
• Public sector workers experienced more absence (2.9%) than those in the private sector (1.7%)
• The sickness absence rate for part-time workers is greater (2.6%) than those in full-time employment (1.9%)
• Minor illnesses such as coughs and colds accounted for 25% of the absences, musculoskeletal issues for 22% and mental health problems 12%
Improvements in health care and targeted employer intervention were said to be major factors behind the improvement in the figures. However, it was also noted that with the rise in the state pension there are trends towards workers taking semi-retirement and accessing their pensions to extend employment on a part-time basis.
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