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Long-term sickness: 2.55m unable to work.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) have revealed that 2.55 million people in the UK are not at work because of long-term sickness, meaning that for every 13 employees, one is off on long-term sick.

The ONS report attributes these record figures to an evident increase in mental health conditions in young people and musculoskeletal issues. It is likely that the prevalence of these conditions is because of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, which saw young people being isolated and people working from home without the correct equipment. 

Long-term sickness is classified as a period of continuous absence of four or more weeks and can cause a major burden on organisations. As such, it is important that all organisations actively manage long-term sickness, which should include the following measures::

  • implementing a comprehensive a long-term sickness policy;
  • Requiring employees on long-term sick leave to keep in touch and provide appropriate medical evidence;
  • Referring employees to occupational health experts;
  • Training managers in the management of ill health; and
  • Holding return-to-work interviews.

Please feel free to contact the Employment Team on [email protected] for any assistance.