The Impact of Long-Term Sickness on Workforce and Economic Growth


In a dynamic economic landscape, the UK is grappling with a significant challenge – the rising prevalence of long-term sickness among its workforce. Recent data reveals that for every 13 people currently working, one person is on long-term sick leave. This alarming trend not only poses a threat to individual well-being but also raises concerns about its potential impact on productivity and long-term economic growth, according to economists.


The Hidden Costs
As businesses strive to meet demand and navigate the challenges of the post-pandemic era, the absence of skilled workers due to prolonged sickness is beginning to take its toll. Tony Wilson, director at the Institute for Employment Studies, highlights the negative consequences of this trend, emphasising that “people being off work is inevitably going to be bad for business and the economy.” This absence could lead to businesses having to pay more to fill jobs or even facing closure due to the inability to cope, ultimately affecting overall productivity and market competition.


The Post Pandemic Fall Out
The pandemic played a role in exacerbating this issue, as millions of Britons stopped working during the crisis. Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS, points out that there are now 400,000 more people not in employment or actively seeking employment than before the pandemic. Mental health conditions, back and neck pains possibly linked to remote work, and the emergence of long Covid have all contributed to this surge in work-limiting health problems.


The Knock on Effect

This growing concern extends beyond the immediate workforce. Tom Pollard, head of social policy at the New Economics Foundation, emphasizes the “knock-on costs” associated with long-term sickness, explaining that it creates a challenging cycle that’s difficult to break.

Addressing long-term sickness is not just a priority for individuals and businesses; it’s a key component of the government’s strategy to stimulate economic growth. Recent budgetary changes have aimed to alleviate some of these challenges, but the road ahead is complex.

Enter Occupational Health Providers

As an Occupational Health Provider, Clarity is committed to supporting businesses in managing these issues effectively. Our comprehensive occupational health programme is designed to address not only the immediate health needs of employees but also to help create workplace environments that promote well-being and adaptability.

To learn more about how we can assist your organisation in navigating these challenges, click here.

In these times of change and uncertainty, investing in employee health and well-being is not just a moral imperative; it’s a strategic decision that can shape the future of your organization. Together, we can build a healthier, more resilient workforce and contribute to the long-term growth of your business.


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