Recent figures from the ONS have recorded the lowest number of days lost to sickness in the UK since 1993. In 2016 it is reported that 137 million days were lost which equates to 4.3 days per worker. The highest rate was 7.2 days per worker when records began in 1993. Whilst almost a quarter is attributable to minor illness – coughs, colds and the like, absences due to mental health accounts for 11.5% for stress, depression and conditions such as schizophrenia and manic depression.
With the recent increased focus on mental health within the workplace and the statistics that 1 in 4 people will have a period of mental ill-health it is important that employers look at how they can support a healthy working environment that deals with not only the physical but mental working environment.
There is still a discrepancy between the public (2.9%) and private (1.7%) sectors which may in part be attributable to more generous sick pay provisions in the public sector as well as different ways in which sickness absence is managed.
Noele McClelland, Employment specialist and Partner at Thorntons, said: “Days lost to sickness absence cost the UK economy millions in lost productivity every year and whilst the downward trend is good employers cannot be complacent. Creating the right environment which minimises the likelihood of people being off sick, as well as supporting them to return is crucial to maintain a healthy and productive workforce.”