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Sector sick leave days on the rise, analysis suggests

Melanie May | 17 April 2024 | News

a view of a person's feet poking out from under a duvet as they lie face down in bed. By Pixabay on pexels

An analysis of over 1,700 commercial and nonprofit organisations in the UK has revealed that those in the NGO/charity sector have seen one of the biggest rises in sick leave over the past year.

The Sick Leave Report 2024, conducted by Access PeopleHR, which is part of the Access Group, shows that overall, the annual number of days when people are off sick in each organisation in the NGO/charity sector has increased by 8% in the past year, from an average of 134 days in 2022 to 145 in 2023.

The sector has also seen sickness leave rise significantly over the last four years, with a growth in absence of 58% since 2019.


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In comparison, the average UK business reported 128 days of sick leave in 2023 ­– up 6% compared to 120 in 2022, and up 55% since 2019. Real estate saw the biggest spike in sick leave in the last year with a 67% rise.

Commenting on the potential reasons for rising sick leave, Charles Butterworth, Managing Director of the People Division at The Access Group, said:

“This growth of sick leave in the NGO/charity industry could be due to a number of factors, such as experiencing more burnout and long-term sickness since the increased return to office-based work in 2023, with the most common industries reporting growths in sick leave being less likely to work remotely – namely those in the arts, real estate and retail industries.”

For the analysis, Access PeopleHR looked at the sickness leave data taken from 1,775 businesses using the People HR platform, in 18 sectors, taking data for the full years of 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023 to understand the correlation between each year.