Stress plays major role in UK's sick leave rise

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Stress plays major role in UK's sick leave rise

The study finds that stress has played a major role in the rise in absences at work over the past year, causing the number of workers taking sick leave to a 10-year high.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development analysed sickness absence and employee health among 918 organizations, with 76% of respondents saying they had taken time off due to stress in the past year.

The cost-of-living crisis was cited by many as a reason for sick leave, with recurring cases of Covid-19 and long Covid being a trigger for workers to take time off while the cost-of-living issue was cited as a reason for sick leave.

The report comes as firms warn of ongoing difficulties with recruitment and a lack of skilled staff, prompting its authors to say it was clear employers needed to offer more support to get people back to work.

The researchers found that staff were absent from work for an average of 7.8 days over the past year, up from 5.8 days in 2019, before the pandemic and the highest since 2010.

Of the groups responding, 50% said over the past 12 months they have experienced, or are experiencing long Covid ie symptoms that last 12 weeks or more, up from 46% the previous year. more than a third of the UK's population said Covid-19 was still a significant cause of short-term absence.

''t know whether any employees had long Covid-19 symptoms,'' said the report, based on a survey conducted with the insurer Simplyhealth.

The main reason for long-term absences was mental ill health, which 63% cited as the top cause, while short-term absences were dominated by minor illnesses like colds and musculoskeletal injuries, while mental ill health was also cited as a reason for workers to take a few days off work.

Due to the growing demand from workers to work more flexibly and work from home, the rise in sick absences is a result of a growing desire from workers to work more flexibly and to work from home in response to caring responsibilities, rising costs and stress at work.

A recent report from KPMG said that two-fifths of UK workers are considering a career change due to the rising cost of living, up from 35% in 2022. The accountancy firm polled 1,500 UK employees about their working habits and career aspirations, and found that a challenging economic environment is changing their employment priorities.

A report on Monday by economists at the same firm said the UK's low productivity, which measures the amount produced by a worker every hour, will impact the economy and with continued political uncertainty and high interest and slow growth in the second half of this year.

They fear the UK could struggle to keep its head above the water during the second half of the year as'renewed signs of stress' hit the economy.

KPMG predicted that UK growth will slow down in 2022 to just 0.4%, down from 4.1% in 2022, and slow further to just 0.3% in 2024, less than half the 0.8% forecast by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development.

Labour said the UK's joblessness rate has gone backwards on all three levels of employment, unemployment and economic inactivity since the start of the pandemic.

The OECD's analysis of data from the Paris-based organisation shows that the UK's unemployment rate is lower, a higher rate of unemployment and a higher rate of economic inactivity than in early 2020.

Labour said it was not a decision to make a decision to quit, saying it did not make any difference to the job market.

Labour's shadow work and pensions secretary Liz Kendall said the UK was suffering a 'crisis of economic inactivity' that has especially affected the over-50s and young people.