Remote working saving UK businesses millions in sick pay

As Brits are once again ordered to work from home, new research has revealed that British businesses are saving hundreds of millions of pounds in sick pay, following a drop in the number of illness days taken by workers during the pandemic.

Hitachi Capital Invoice Finance has looked into how working from home has impacted sickness absence in the UK, and found that absences fell by 5.3% during the pandemic to a record low of 1.8 days per year, saving the British economy £338,430,000 annually.

British businesses spent approximately £6,985,492,500 on sickness pay in 2019. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic causing a large number of the population to work from home, this number fell to £6,647,062,500 in 2020.

Hitachi Capital Invoice Finance also examined the split between males and females. The female sickness absence rate fell 4.2% from 2.4 to 2.3 during the pandemic, saving British businesses over £137 million per year, while the male rate fell 6.25% to 1.5 from 1.6, saving the economy more than £192 million in sick pay.

What was the main cause of sick days?

Despite all the focus in the news on Coronavirus over the last two years, COVID-19 was only the fourth biggest cause of sick days in the UK. Minor illnesses and musculoskeletal issues were the top two reasons for taking a sick day in 2020.

Commenting on the research, John Atkinson, Head of Commercial Business at Hitachi Capital Invoice Finance, said: “At a time when many businesses might be struggling, it’s good news for many that the number of sick days Brits are taking are on the fall, with the increased number of people working from home a key factor. For small businesses and SMEs, sickness can be a huge issue, and our research suggests that many business owners can worry slightly less about this issue over the next 12 months.

“While it’s positive that fewer Brits feel they need to take as many sick days, it’s very important they feel as though they can take them without judgement, particularly to aid their mental health as more people return to working from home again.”