Sickness absences at lowest average since 1993!

Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have revealed a significant fall in the number of days employees are taking off work due to sickness. The ONS reported that an average of 4.1 sick days were taken in 2017, compared to 7.1 in 1993 (the year records began).
The most common reason for these absences is unsurprisingly minor illnesses such as colds, with back and joint pain coming in second as the next biggest source. Notably, however, among 25 to 34 year-olds there has been a significant rise in mental health as a reason for absence from work, up from 7.2 per cent in 2009 to 9.6 per cent.
It is speculated that the reduction in sick days could in large part be due to an improvement in healthy life expectancy. However, presenteeism has also been highlighted as a potential key factor. Earlier this year, research showed that 86 per cent of firms reported a rise in employees coming into work when they are ill. A quarter of employers said that they had tried to take action to stop people coming to work during periods of sickness.
It has also been suggested that the aftermath of the recession and Brexit uncertainty have made employees feel more vulnerable to redundancy and job-loss and, therefore, fearful of taking too many days off.
If you have any queries on how best to handle sickness absence, please contact a member of the Dentons team.

Tom Fancett

About Tom Fancett

Tom has experience acting for both employers and employees, advising on the full spectrum of contentious and non-contentious matters. His experience includes advising on large commercial transactions, including redundancy and TUPE issues; undertaking buy side and sell side due diligence exercises into the employment aspects for multiple commercial transactions; coordinating multijurisdictional projects; defending Employment Tribunal claims in relation to unfair dismissal, disability and sex discrimination and whistleblowing; advising on day-to-day HR and disciplinary issues; drafting and negotiating settlement and service agreements; and reviewing company handbooks and template employment contracts.

Full bio