According to new research, the average British person spends an entire year on sick days during their working life — approximately 360 sick days over the course of a 45-year career.
The National Sickness Report listed stress and depression as the most common causes of long-term absences; the average amount ot time needed to recover from these emotional health issues is 81 sick days. Overall, up to 131 million days are lost per year due to sick days, and over 13 million of these are due to stress and depression, according to the Office for National Statistics Sickness Absence in the Labour Market 2012. Bad backs, severe migraines, ear infections or the flu were listed as the next most common ailments causing workers to stay home. The report surveyed 2,000 full-time British workers to measure their levels of health and attitudes toward sickness.
“Whilst no one wants to think about getting ill, unfortunately none of us are invincible and the reality is that some people will need to be off work for a large chunk of time,” Mark Jones, head of protection for LV= insurance, which completed the survey, said in a press release. “[F]ar too few of us have a back-up plan in place that would protect our income if we found ourselves unable to work.” The report notes that only 36 percent of full time workers would receive Statutory Sick Pay when ill, hinting that sickness — especially if caused by a long-term underlying condition like depression or stress – could have major financial implications not only on businesses, but individuals as well.
The data out of England parallels that in the United States. In 2012, a nonprofit research organization called the Integrated Benefits Institute found that poor health in the U.S. costs the economy $576 billion per year, with 39 percent of that being from "lost productivity," or worker absenteeism. With depression and stress affecting millions of Americans, lost productivity due to depression in employees is estimated to be between $17 to $44 billion dollars. Depression causes about 200 million lost work days per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.