Top 5 reasons for sickness in the UK

The amount days off taken because of sickness has increased in the last year. There was nearly an extra 10 million days taken off sick in 2018. This meant the highest sickness levels in nearly a decade. Below are the top 5 reasons given for employee sickness.

1: Minor Illness

Minor illness was the reason given for over a quarter of the sickness days – 38.5 million days in a year. This includes coughs, colds, flu, nausea, and diarrhoea. 

2: Musculoskeletal problem

Not just limited to people in manually intensive jobs, Skeletal problems, at nearly a fifth, 19.7%, are common amongst all industries. The 27.8 million days lost to this type of sickness are related to things such as back pain, neck and upper spine issues, and limb problems.

3: Other

Despite the rather all-encompassing title, “other” sickness does not take the top spot in our list. This section contains a collection of short and long-term illnesses. This category of sickness includes

  • Accidents
  • Diseases
  • Skin disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Poisoning

All these “other” reasons stopped us from going to work for a total of 19.4 million days a year – 13.7% of the total sickness days.

4: Mental health condition

Mental health reasons were given for 12.4% of sickness days. This is 17.5 million days off. Recognising and understanding mental health problems is improving. As a result of this, the people with stress, depression, anxiety and other serious mental health conditions will hopefully not feel so alone.

5: Gastrointestinal problems

With not even half of the previous category, 6.1% goes to having problems with the digestive system, or thereabouts. This accounts for just 8.6 million days. 

What is left over?

All the rest of the categories add up to 16.1% – or 22.7 million days. Some examples of the remaining categories are:

  • Respiratory
  • Eye, Ear, Nose or mouth problems
  • Genito-urinary
  • Heart, blood pressure or circulation problems
  • Headaches or migraines.

The missing percentage, just in case you are checking the totals, is the category of “Prefers not to say”.

Statistics from sickness absence data for 2018 from the Office for National Statistics 

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