Sicknote Britain – Average employee was off work for 5.7 days

A staggering 185.6 million working days were lost due to sickness or injury last year – the highest figure since records began in 1995. The average worker was off for 5.7 days in 2022, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Almost 30 percent complained of minor illnesses while 23.8 percent cited “other” conditions.

More than 10 percent faced musculoskeletal pains, 8.3 percent had a respiratory illness and 7.9 percent suffered a mental health condition.

Illness among the over 65s was at a record high of 3.7 percent of working hours. Catherine Foot, of longevity thinktank Phoenix Insights, said: “The figures paint a worrying picture as people in their 50s and 60s out of work due to sickness or disability are most at risk of financial vulnerability later in life.

“Average wealth among 50 to 64-year-olds driven out of work due to ill health is just £57,000, less than five percent of the wealth of those who chose to retire.”

Sarah Coles, head of personal finance at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “There has been a flood of people hitting the point when they’re too sick to work.

“Those who have a long-term condition and are still ploughing on were forced to take a record number of days off in 2022.

“This is likely to owe an awful lot to gaps in care during Covid, changes in lifestyle during lockdowns, and then enormous ongoing problems accessing care.”

The ONS said 2.6 percent of all working hours were lost due to sickness or injury during the year, increasing from 2.2 percent in 2021.

Men have lower sickness absence rates than women. In 2022 it was 2.2 percent for men and 3.2 percent for women.

Public sector workers take the most sick days at 3.6 percent compared with 2.3 percent for private sector workers.

David Freeman, of the ONS, said: “It is because the working population is much bigger now than it was nearly 20 years ago, that in 2022 the total number of working days lost was the highest on record.”

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