A “sickness epidemic” is sweeping Britain, reports The Sun, as a whopping one million workers took a month off sick last year.
Government statistics have revealed that not only did Britons’ penchant for extended sick leave damage the British economy by around £100bn ($164.1bn), but also that the average Brit takes 9.1 sick days each year, double that of U.S. workers, and four times that of those in the Asia-Pacific region.
The difference, some say, may lie with the fact that Britain’s employment laws guarantee a certain level of sick pay, regardless of the employer. In contrast, just under 40 percent of workers in the private sector in the United States are entitled to paid sick leave.
Britain’s Work and Pensions minister Mike Penning said: “The large number of days lost to sickness has a substantial impact on workers, employers and taxpayers. As part of the Government’s long-term economic plan, we’re taking action to get people back to work.”
The statistics released by the British government on Friday reveal that 73 percent of those who took time off on long-term sickness were under the age of 50, while just 27 percent were over 50, perhaps implying a recent culture shift.
The industries bearing the brunt of the sicknesses were primarily education, public administration, and health, which when combined, accounted for 33 percent of absences across the United Kingdom. Distribution, hotels, and restaurants came next, bearing 20 percent of the absentee burden, while banking, finance, and insurance came in third at 16 percent.
Figures also reveal that both the South East of England, and London, were the most affected by absentees.