Headlines: August 26th, 2005

Workers in Britain have collectively taken off around 78 million working days in the last 12 months, with some 13.9 million people having taken at least one day off due to sickness. These findings emerge from research by The Benenden Healthcare Society. The research also revealed that two million people or about 8% of the working population admitted to taking more than three weeks off sick in the last 12 months, totalling a loss of more than 30 million working days for their employer. Women were more likely to take time off than men, with 54% of women having taken at least one day off, compared to 46% of men.These figures from Benenden Healthcare are in line with a report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development which revealed a rise in sick absence. It showed that public sector employers are hit harder than the private services sector. The gap between the number of sick days taken in the two sectors has widened by more than half a day since last year’s survey. Average absence levels in the public sector stand at 10.3 days per employee per year compared to 6.8 days in private services sector. The cost of absence in the public sector is 645 pounds per employee each year, rising to 1060 pounds within the health sector.

Stress is one of the leading and growing causes of absence in the public sector with around a half of organisations citing stress as a leading cause of long-term absence for non-manual workers. Meanwhile, more than four in ten public sector organisations say that their stress levels have increased during the past year. Absence levels are highest in local government and the health sector. There are a high proportion of particularly challenging public facing roles in the public sector such as police, healthcare, teaching, and social services which contribute to higher than average levels of absence.