Coughs, colds and bad backs have been blamed for a spike in the number of sick days taken by workers last year.

Official figures published yesterday show the number of sick days taken rose sharply last year.

The Office for National Statistics estimated that 141.4million working days were lost in the UK due to sickness and injury in 2018. 

According to the ONS, women, older workers, part time staff and those in the public sector were among those more likely to take a sickie. Managers and senior officials were less likely to call in sick than more junior staff [File photo]

According to the ONS, women, older workers, part time staff and those in the public sector were among those more likely to take a sickie. Managers and senior officials were less likely to call in sick than more junior staff [File photo]

According to the ONS, women, older workers, part time staff and those in the public sector were among those more likely to take a sickie. Managers and senior officials were less likely to call in sick than more junior staff [File photo]

This is an increase of almost ten million sick days on 2017 and a rise of more than seven per cent.

Before the spike, sick leave for Britons had reached a record low, and last year’s average of 4.4 days off per worker is down from a high of 7.2 days in the mid-1990s. 

By far the biggest cause of absence was minor illnesses, including coughs and colds.

They accounted for more than one in four ‘sickies’ – or more than 38 million days.

The second most common ailment was bad backs, necks and other musculoskeletal problems, which were responsible for 28 million sick days. Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety accounted for more than 17million days off sick.

According to the ONS, women, older workers, part time staff and those in the public sector were among those more likely to take a sickie.

The second most common ailment was bad backs, necks and other musculoskeletal problems, which were responsible for 28 million sick days. Before last year’s rise, the average number of sick days had fallen to a record low of 4.1 days in 2017 [File photo]

The second most common ailment was bad backs, necks and other musculoskeletal problems, which were responsible for 28 million sick days. Before last year’s rise, the average number of sick days had fallen to a record low of 4.1 days in 2017 [File photo]

The second most common ailment was bad backs, necks and other musculoskeletal problems, which were responsible for 28 million sick days. Before last year’s rise, the average number of sick days had fallen to a record low of 4.1 days in 2017 [File photo]

But, interestingly those working in larger organisations with more than 500 staff were also more likely to call in sick.

This suggests that those who work for smaller companies feel more of an obligation to turn up for work, even if they are feeling unwell.

Managers and senior officials were less likely to call in sick than more junior staff.

And despite being less likely to take a sick day, men were more likely to take the day off with a minor illness such as a cold or cough than women.

Overall, the average worker in the took 4.4 days off sick last year.

The increase in sick days is a blow to businesses and the economy, But over the longer term, workers appear to have either become more stoic – or become less prone to illness or injury.

Before last year’s rise, the average number of sick days had fallen to a record low of 4.1 days in 2017.

Official figures published yesterday show the number of sick days taken rose sharply last year. The Office for National Statistics estimated that 141.4million working days were lost in the UK due to sickness and injury in 2018 [File photo]

Official figures published yesterday show the number of sick days taken rose sharply last year. The Office for National Statistics estimated that 141.4million working days were lost in the UK due to sickness and injury in 2018 [File photo]

Official figures published yesterday show the number of sick days taken rose sharply last year. The Office for National Statistics estimated that 141.4million working days were lost in the UK due to sickness and injury in 2018 [File photo]

And the total number of days taken off for illness and injury fell sharply financial crisis, before flattening out since 2011.

Trade union bosses argue workers are often reluctant to take time off sick because they are fearful for their jobs.

David Buik, a veteran business commentator who now works for investment firm Core Spreads said: ‘A lot of this is coming from human resources department which are becoming more powerful. They are increasingly making sure no one is under duress to come into work if they don’t feel 100 per cent.

‘Workers at smaller companies are less likely to take the day off because they don’t want to let their colleagues down’.

DailyMail Online


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