Sickness absence is concentrated in women workers, those working full-time,
those aged under 30 and public sector workers, the Office for National
Statistics has revealed.
Its study, Trends and sources of data on sickness absence, has found that
levels of longstanding sickness and sickness absence in the general population
have by and large remained constant for the past 20 years.
Almost 2.2 million days were lost to sickness during the autumn of 2001,
when the survey was put together, accounting for 2 per cent of the total
scheduled working days at the time. This compared with 1.9 million days
reported the previous summer.
The proportion of workers absent for at least one day in the week under the
spotlight was 3.4 per cent.
In the period under investigation, 3.8 per cent of female employees were
absent from work in the previous week, compared with 3 per cent for men.
The rates were highest among the 25-29 age group for men and the 20-34 and
30-34 age group for women.
Absence rates for men and women with a limiting longstanding illness were 7
per cent and 8 per cent respectively, compared with 3 per cent and 5 per cent
for those who did not have an illness.
"A number of risk factors have been identified as being related to
sickness absence, including overall health, job satisfaction and adverse social
circumstance," the report concluded.
But, as yet, there were no accurate measures of these factors. "The
identification of ways to measure these factors, and others which have yet to
be identified, will no doubt improve understanding of sickness absence,"
the report added.