The labour market seems to be getting sicker and sicker!

The Health Foundation is forecasting waiting lists for the NHS will reach 8 million by the summer of 2024.(this is regardless of industrial action)

CIPD reports sickness and absence rates have jumped to the highest in a decade.

The average rate of employee sickness and absence now stands at 7.8 days per employee per year and the big question employers are now facing is, are we getting sicker or are we not managing our sickness and absence as well as we used to, with remote and hybrid working, employers don’t have the same level of access to their teams and what is going on for them.

(Rates pre-pandemic were running at 5.6 days per employee per year)

The most common causes of sickness and absence remain the same, with stress being the most common cause of long-term sick leave, even before we hit the winter flu season, the levels of sickness were being described as an epidemic. In May 2023, 2.55 million were off due to long-term sickness and that equates to 1 in 13 out of the workforce.

The evidence points towards an increasing level of sickness even before the pandemic. A sicker population shrinks the size of the workforce – long-term health conditions, such as cancer, depression or arthritis, are now the leading cause of economic inactivity, responsible for 2.5 million people being out of work. Meanwhile, those with a long-term condition take three times as many sick days as those without.

Even though these numbers are very high, British workers take fewer sick days than most European Countries, with Germany taking on average 20 days a year.