Sick days cost UK employers £23bn a year

Sick days are costing UK organisations more than £23 billion a year, down from £29 billion a year ago, according to research by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC).


Its research, which surveyed 2,500 global organisations, found that UK employees still take triple the number of sick days than their global counterparts.

UK employees take an average of seven sick days a year, while employees in Asia Pacific take 4.8 days and employees in the US take 3.8 days.

The research also found that Central and Eastern Europe have the highest level of sick days, averaging 8.3 days a year.

In the UK, sick days still account for the majority of absence and make up 87% of the overall absence bill to UK employers.

Jon Andrews (pictured), head of HR consulting at PWC, said: “Despite overall levels of absence falling in the UK, this could be even lower if employers actively address this issue.

“The combination of major events, such as the World Cup and Wimbledon, may mean that the temptation to take time off work to watch sport is too much for some.

“Organisations could easily reduce the knock-on impact on their employees’ productivity levels by offering flexible working or allowing them to watch key matches in the office.

“Having a flexible-working culture can go a long way to breaking the cycle of people feeling that they are entitled to days off outside of their holiday allowance and encouraging better employee engagement.

“The change in law that means anyone now has the right to request flexible working should help more people achieve the work-life balance they need without impacting on organisations’ productivity.”