The variety of working days misplaced to illness within the UK hit a report excessive final yr, in line with official information printed on Wednesday that can reinforce fears over the affect of ailing well being on the economic system.
Minor diseases had been the primary motive for folks to take illness absence, though Covid-19 was nonetheless an enormous issue, the Workplace for Nationwide Statistics said. The ONS additionally famous that respiratory circumstances had overtaken psychological well being issues to change into the fourth most typical motive for illness.
It estimated the variety of working days misplaced due to illness or damage in 2022 at 185.6mn, 47.4mn greater than the pre-pandemic stage and a brand new report excessive.
The speed of illness absence — or the share of working hours misplaced due to illness or damage — rose to 2.6 per cent in 2022, up from 2.2 per cent in 2021 and the best stage since 2004, in line with the ONS.
The rise is a pointy bounceback from the low ranges of absence on the peak of the pandemic when many staff had been furloughed and social distancing led to a drop in minor diseases. But it surely additionally marks a worrying reversal within the long-term pattern: illness charges have been in decline for the reason that Nineteen Nineties, reflecting the altering nature of labor, and had been comparatively flat within the years main as much as the pandemic.
In his Price range final month, UK chancellor Jeremy Hunt made boosting the scale of the workforce and lifting productivity a key precedence for elevating financial progress. The figures will gas considerations amongst policymakers that rising ranges of ailing well being, alongside acute pressures on the NHS, are conserving folks out of labor and weighing on the economic system.
The quantity of people that say they don’t seem to be working or job-seeking due to a long-term well being situation has elevated by half 1,000,000 since 2019.
The Financial institution of England’s Financial Coverage Committee, which units rates of interest, thinks that leap is one motive why labour shortages, and the accompanying pressures on wages, danger making excessive inflation extra persistent within the UK than elsewhere.
The variety of folks in work who’ve a long-term well being situation has additionally risen. Wednesday’s figures confirmed that the speed of illness absence for this group rose to 4.9 per cent in 2022 — the best stage since 2008 — in contrast with an absence charge of 1.5 per cent amongst different staff.
Paul Nowak, basic secretary of the Trades Union Congress, the umbrella physique for the UK labour motion, mentioned even this information was certain to understate the true stage of illness as a result of many low-paid staff weren’t eligible for sick pay and others couldn’t get by on the “miserly” charge of statutory sick pay.
Separate data released by the ONS confirmed there was no enchancment final yr within the UK’s persistently weak productiveness — the important thing issue that determines residing requirements over the long run.
Development in output per hour labored within the fourth quarter of 2022 was unchanged from a yr earlier, the ONS mentioned. Output per employee and per job had been, respectively, 0.2 per cent and 0.3 per cent decrease.
In the meantime, in a report printed on Thursday the Institute for Public Coverage Analysis mentioned the UK’s poor report on well being was taking an enormous toll on the economic system.
The think-tank discovered that, since 2020, somebody with a brand new bodily sickness had skilled a median of fall of about £1,400 of their annual earnings, whereas the onset of a psychological sickness reduce earnings by roughly £1,700. The drop in earnings for folks residing in the identical family because the unwell individual was £1,200.
Though these prices had been decrease than within the 5 years main as much as the pandemic, the IPPR mentioned they had been “life-changing” for a lot of, with two-fifths of individuals affected shedding 10 per cent of extra of their earnings by means of leaving their job, chopping their hours or discovering themselves unable to re-enter work.