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UK sick days fall

8th June 2010

A survey by the Confederation of British Industry has shown that the number of sick days taken by the average worker in Britain is falling.

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The average number of days taken off because of illness was 6.4 in 2009, compared to 6.7 in 2007. 

The number of sick days taken in 2009 dropped to its lowest level since 1987, the CBI/Pfizer Absence and Workplace Health Survey revealed.

The study gathered information from 241 organisations from the public and private sector, which employ nearly 1.3 million workers.

In 2009, the total number of sick days was 180 million and had an estimated cost to the UK economy of £16.8 billion.

The organisations which responded to the surveys estimated that 15% of the absences were not caused by employees being genuinely unwell. The CBI said this meant the cost of these dishonest absences was £2.5 billion.

Workers from the public sector had an average of 8.3 days sick days in 2009, in comparison to employees in the private sector who had only 5.8 days off.

"Although the rate of employee absence has fallen in the public sector, it is still a lot higher than in the private sector, and this issue should be addressed, especially given that the public finances are strained," said Katja Hall, director of employment policy at the CBI.

"We estimate that £5.5bn could be saved by 2015-16 if the public sector matched the private sector's absence rate."

 

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