UK has second worst sickness absence rate in Europe, Work Foundation study finds


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More than 35 million days are lost each year to sickness absence in the UK, a Fit for Work Europe Coalition report has found.

The study revealed Germany and the UK have the worst sickness absence rates in Europe, lagging behind many other European countries such as France, Poland and Romania.

The study, written by The Work Foundation, found MSDs are the leading cause of sickness absence across the EU, with 44 million workers being diagnosed with a problem each year. It estimates this costs up to €240 billion a year in lost productivity and sickness absence, representing up to 2% of GDP across the EU.

An extra one million employees could be at work each day across the EU (62,045 in the UK alone) if early interventions were more widely accessible for those with musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), such as back pain.

The report calls on EU member states to co-ordinate action between Government departments, employers and clinicians to tackle the problem and save billions while, "transforming the lives of those affected by such devastating conditions".

Stephen Bevan, director at The Work Foundation, said: "Access to early healthcare interventions for workers with MSDs are not being prioritised.

"Thousands are taking unnecessary long periods away from work or even leaving work permanently when tried and tested tactics to speed up their recovery and return to work."

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