Sickness absence in the UK falls to the lowest rate on record

Healthcare | Reports

SicknessThe average number of sickness absence days that UK workers take has almost halved since records began in 1993, Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures have revealed.

The figures show that employees took an average of 4.1 sickness absence days in 2017, compared with 7.2 days in 1993, but sickness absence started to fall overall from 1999.

The proportion of working hours lost to sickness absence is known as the sickness absence rate.

Since the economic downturn of 2008 sickness absence rates in the UK have fallen by 0.5 percentage points to 1.9% in 2017. Over the same period, in the private sector rates have decreased by 0.4 percentage points.

In 2017, the rate stood at 1.7% for the private sector and 2.6% for the public sector. Public sector health workers had the highest rates at 3.3%.

Rates may have decreased as healthy life expectancy has improved over time. Rates in the private sector could be lower as workers are less likely to be paid for a spell of sickness. There may also be an increase in presenteeism, where people go to work even though they are ill.

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