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Long-term absenteeism due to illness reached a record high



The UK grapples with a record-breaking surge in long-term sickness absences, reaching over 2.8 million individuals, marking an increase of 700,000 over the past three years.

Britain is experiencing a record-breaking rise in long-term sick leave, reaching more than 2.8 million people, an increase of 700,000 in the past three years.

Before the pandemic, approximately 2.1 million people were classified as economically inactive due to long-term illness. The staggering rise in long-term sick leave underlines the profound impact of health problems on employment rates, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows.

Highlighting a worrying trend, HSBC analysts note that the total number of people aged 16 to 64 who are inactive due to long-term illness has risen by 36% since the end of 2019. This increase in long-term absenteeism poses significant challenges to the economy. recovery efforts, increasing inflationary pressures and restricting the pool of available workers.

The rise in long-term absenteeism has wider implications for the economy, contributing to a decline in employment and exacerbating inflationary pressures. Charlie McCurdy of the Resolution Foundation underlines the broader economic implications, citing rising layoffs, falling job levels and stagnant economic growth as signs of a troubled economy.

Experts attribute the rise in long-term absenteeism to several factors, including delays in routine health care treatments, increased mental health problems and closer access to basic benefits. However, a consensus on the main causes of this trend remains elusive.

The increase in the number of economically inactive people extends beyond long-term absenteeism: the total number of economically inactive people of working age is 9.4 million. This level, last observed in 2012, underlines the severity of the current economic challenges.

Mel Stride, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said: “Since the pandemic we have seen an increase in long-term illness-related inactivity. That’s why we launched our £2.5 billion ‘back-to-work’ plan to transform lives and grow the economy.

“Our welfare reforms will reduce the number of people placed on the highest level of disability benefits by more than 370,000. With millions benefiting from this month’s huge increase in the national minimum wage, it is work, not welfare, that provides the best financial security for British households.”