650,000 workers phone in sick every week

2 December 2013        

Man and woman walking down stairs

Every week, nearly 650,000 UK workers phone in sick, according to new research from our Health at Work programme.

The Public Administration and Defence sector, which includes public sector jobs, has the highest level of absence with around 51,000 people not making it in to work in a typical week.

The economic costs of sickness absence and worklessness caused by ill health are estimated to cost the UK economy £100 billion a year.

The research also shows that many people’s ill health limits their ability to do their job properly, even when they can make it into work. Nearly half (44%) of the eight million workers reporting a health problem lasting more than a year say they can’t fully perform their working duties.

Through our free Health at Work programme, we partner with 7,000 employers to help them create wellbeing initiatives that can improve the health and productivity of their workforce. The scheme includes free tools and resources employers can use to encourage their workers to get activeeat well and reduce stress.

Sickness absence is a major concern for the health of our nation.


Lisa Purcell, Project Manager for our Health at Work programme, said: “Sickness absence is a major concern for the health of our nation and costs businesses millions of pounds every year. But it doesn’t have to be like this. The risk of numerous health conditions reported by workers, including coronary heart disease, can be significantly cut with improvements to their lifestyle.

“Through our Health at Work programme, businesses that have prioritised workplace health have been able to create a healthier, more productive workforce with fewer days lost to sickness. But at the moment, too many businesses are missing this golden opportunity to improve the health, morale and productivity of their workforce.”