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Long-term sickness absence more likely in large organisations

Most people who return to work have an absence lasting less than six months

Most people who return to work have an absence lasting less than six months

Employees who work for large organisations are 1.5 times more likely to have a long-term sickness absence than those in small workplaces, figures show.

The government data also reveals the likelihood of having at least one spell of long-term sickness absence every year increases with age.

People aged 55-64 were over three times as likely (7%) to have at least one spell of long-term sickness absence compared to those under 25 (2%) every year.

Overall, more than 100,000 people leave work following a spell of long-term sickness absence each year.

The longer an absence persists, the greater the likelihood an individual does not return to work following their absence. For example, people whose absence spell lasted for one year or more, were eight times more likely to leave work than those with a four-week duration.

The vast majority (93%) of people who returned to work following their sickness absence had an absence lasting six months or less.

Employees’ likelihood of having above the statutory minimum sick pay and/or access to occupational health (OH) services are correlated with their type of work and the employer they work for.

Those that are in skilled occupations, full-time, with permanent contracts and working for larger employers are more likely to receive above the statutory minimum sick pay and have access to OH services.

Of those who had ended their sickness absence, 91% of people returned to work. The figures show 86% of individuals returned to work for the same employer, 4% returned to work for a different employer and just under 0.5% became self-employed.

Vanessa Sallows, claims and governance director for Legal & General Group Protection, said being unable to work due to illness or injury can be a frightening prospect for many employees, so it is vital to highlight the benefits and importance of employee benefits such as group income protection (GIP).

She added that with over half of UK employees working for small and medium businesses and less than 5% of these organisations having a GIP policy in place, it’s vital for these employers to embrace the benefits of such policies.