The average employee with a recurring medical condition, such as a chronic pain condition, takes 17 days of sick leave per year.
A survey of 2,300 UK-based full-time workers by pain relief firm Biofreeze found “general illnesses”, such as cold or flu, accounted for 43% of all sick days taken by employees in 2020, with an average of five days off per worker.
However, last month Public Health England said influenza infection rates were at historic lows, thought to be driven by the current lockdown and the increased uptake of the flu vaccine.
The second most common reason for sickness absence – recurring medical conditions – accounted for 23% of sick days taken in 2020, according to the Biofreeze survey, with the affected employees taking more than half a month off a year on average.
Mental health was the third most common reason for sick leave taken in 2020, with the average employee affected by it taking 10 days of leave.
Minor injuries accounted for 17% of sickness absence (two days of sick leave per employee), stress 16% of absence (eight days), and sports injuries 11% of absence (three days).
Based on a salary of £38,500 per year, Biofreeze estimated that someone who is off work for 10 days due to mental health could cost their employer £1,507.80.
Bharat Gohil, spokesperson for Biofreeze, said: “It’s astonishing how much money people cost their businesses by taking time off work due to injuries, you don’t really think about the bigger picture and the impact it’s having on your employer.
“It’s important to help our employers out, especially when people start heading back into the office after the restrictions lift, as businesses will be struggling and will need as much help from their staff as they can.
“One of the things employees can do to ensure they’re able to attend work when they’re experiencing pain, is invest in pain therapy products, correct equipment and ensure that there is someone in the team who is approachable to all that they can turn to for advice and guidance when struggling.”