Home Business Insights & Advice Sick days are costing the UK economy £77bn per year

Sick days are costing the UK economy £77bn per year

by John Saunders
26th Feb 20 4:38 pm

Runny noses and chesty coughs are costing the UK economy £77bn per year in sick days, according to a study by VitalityHealth.

Based on a survey of 32,000 workers in the UK, around 2-3 sick days were estimated per month, equal to around 27 sick days per year.

The result is a loss in productivity due to several hours lost from taking time off, going to appointments and having their work interrupted.

Many HR and health professionals are attributing this trend to the growing pressure and anxiety of modern work requirements. Heavy deadlines and the inability to ‘switch off’ laptops and mobile phones after hours are contributing to a poor work-life balance and state of physical and mental health.

It also manifests that employers will end up losing £17 billion pounds in paid sick leave, since salaried employees resume the same pay, despite taking off days of work for illnesses.

Common reasons for taking sick days

  • Colds and flus
  • Migraines and headaches
  • Stomach bugs
  • Unidentified illnesses
  • Pulling “a sicky”
  • Sports injuries
  • Toothache

 How are employees combating this trend?

Whilst the majority of organisations are doing very little to combat this trend, others are promoting better quality of life, by encouraging flexible hours, working from home for 1 to 2 days per week and offering health and fitness on business premises including yoga, meditation and running clubs.

On a corporate level, many have opted for employee benefit schemes to manage, maintain and boost the quality of the employee health.

Insure-tech start-up, Equipsme, offers affordable health cover for companies of 2 people or more. Staff get access to 24/7 GP access, nurse helpline and online health checks from £7 per person, per month. There is also the option to upgrade to offer stress support for those employees under a lot of pressure for just £1.50 and also dental and optical for an extra £7.50 per person, per month – something that is also likely to lead to sick days and time lost due to appointments.

Shaun Subel, Director of Corporate Wellbeing Strategy at VitalityHealth, added, “The Britain’s Healthiest Workplace results illustrate the significance of the productivity challenge facing the UK, but importantly also point to an exciting alternative in how employers can approach this problem. For too long, the link between employee lifestyle choices, their physical and mental health, and their work performance has been ignored.”

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