Nearly 30.8 million working days were lost in 2021/22 and over 1.8 million work-related ill health cases were reported in the same period, according to new data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
The main factors contributing to ill health were musculoskeletal problems, work-related stress, and depression or anxiety.
The cost of new cases of illness in the workforce is estimated to be £11.2bn in 2019–20, in addition to having an effect on how firms are typically conducted.
Business investment in benefits including private medical and dental insurance as well as those addressing employee benefits will become more crucial for companies as the number of people waiting to receive NHS care surpasses 7 million, breaking all previous records, according to independent consultancy Broadstone.
Broadstone director David Pye says: “Today’s figures lay bare the immense economic and productivity damage that ill-health in the workforce inflicts on businesses in all sectors. Economic inactivity is soaring and workers are struggling to access the mental or physical healthcare that they need to get on with their day-to-day working lives.
“Rates of work-related ill-health have gone through the roof following the pandemic and the financial worries people are now experiencing will only be adding to the levels of depression and anxiety. Tens of millions of working days every year are being lost to these issues which is severely impacting the ability of British businesses to grow and succeed.
“As NHS waiting lists continue to grow, ill-health in the workplace is likely to become increasingly problematic over the mid-term. It will leave employers grappling with increasing long-term absences, distracted by having to find and recruit experienced staff and plummeting levels of wellbeing.
“While services such as private dental and healthcare plans may have been seen as a perk a few years back, they are now becoming an essential business consideration as a means of protecting productivity levels.”