650,000 UK staff off sick each week

Nearly 650,000 UK employees phone in sick every week, according to research by the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

Its research, which analysed figures from the BHF’s Health at Work programme, found that the public administration and defence sector, which includes many public sector jobs, has the highest absence levels, with approximately 51,000 people not making it in to work in a typical week.

This is triple the proportion of sickness absence reported in primary industries, such as farming.

The research also found that nearly half (44%) of the eight million workers reporting a health problem lasting more than a year said they can not fully perform their working duties. This includes 58% of diabetes sufferers and 38% of people living with heart and circulation conditions.

Lisa Purcell (pictured), project manager for the BHF’s Health at Work programme, said: “Sickness absence is a major concern for the health of our nation and costs organisations and the UK economy at large millions of pounds every year.

“But it doesn’t have to be like this. The risk of numerous health conditions reported by employees, including coronary heart disease, can be significantly cut with improvements to their lifestyle.

“Through our Health at Work programme, organisations that have prioritised workplace health have been able to create a healthier, more productive workforce with fewer days lost to sickness.

“This usually leads to a more successful business with a healthier bottom line. But at the moment, too many businesses are missing this golden opportunity to improve the health, morale and productivity of their workforce.”