But despite this overall trend, there are still alarming areas within the UK where there are significantly higher rates of sickness absence, costing businesses thousands, says the firm.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are particular hotspots it adds.
UK firms have experienced a significant reduction in sickness absence, with the national average reducing from 9.1 days in 2004 to between three and six days in 2009. However, the survey has identified that sickness absence runs much higher in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with nearly 20 per cent of the workforce taking over 16 days a year through illness.
Within England, the Midlands and the East lead the way with over 20 per cent of its workforce taking off between none and two days a year, whilst the South of England has over 62 per cent of employees taking between three and two days off work due to sickness.
Origen has calculated that the cost of the average UK worker being absent from work for a single day is £127.53. As typical business models allow for a profit per employee of between 3-6 times salary, the cost of illness per day works out at £382.59 of ‘lost profit’ at the lower end.
For a firm with 100 employees and an average sickness rate of 6 days per employee, the ‘cost’ to the business could amount to well over £200,000 a year, says Origen. For those companies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with higher rates of sickness, the cost to the business could be more than £300,000 a year.
Warren Page, director, client services at Origen, says: “Prior to swine flu hitting the UK, the overall decline in sickness absence could be due to the recent economic instability as workers are worried about possible redundancies, or increasing workloads means that time out of the office is risky and costly. The reason why the figures in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are so high is unclear, but the survey also highlighted that these areas typically offer employees fewer benefits and there may be a correlation to this although other factors will also be contributory.”