1 in 4 employers have seen an increase in staff sickness

A new survey from Acas has found that 1 in 4 employers have seen an increase in staff being off sick compared to a year ago.
Acas commissioned YouGov to ask employers in September if they had seen any changes to the number of employees being off sick compared to 12 months ago. The poll found that:

  • 26% of employers had seen an increase in sickness absence
  • almost 1 in 10 (9%) had seen a decrease
  • over half (56%) said that the number of staff being off sick had roughly stayed the same
  • 9% did not know

Acas Chief Executive, Susan Clews, said:

"Workplaces are handling a wide variety of staff illnesses at the moment such as a rise in flu and COVID cases as well as the ongoing impact of long COVID.
"Staff may want to know about their workplace rights if they are off sick and businesses will want to ensure they remain productive and stay within the law.
"Handling sickness absences effectively can help to prevent any unnecessary disputes at work. Employers should have a clear absence policy that covers the basics such as sick pay, fit notes, how staff should report any absences and keep in touch."

Acas advises that employers should have an absence policy in place that is clear about what is expected from both employers and employees if staff need time off work.
An absence policy should include:

  • how to report absences and keep in touch – this includes who the employee should contact and when
  • what support is available for staff during absences and when they return to work
  • when the employee needs to get a fit note
  • how much the employee will be paid and for how long
  • what to do if someone needs time off for reasons related to a disability

If a business does not have an absence policy, employees can ask their employer or HR manager what they need to do to take time off work.
Read Acas's full advice on holiday, sickness and leave

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Background notes

1. Acas runs training courses for employers on managing absence at work.
2. Acas commissioned YouGov to poll employers in a representative sample of British businesses. The survey was carried out online and the total sample size was 1,007 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken from 20 to 28 September 2022. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc and have been weighted and are representative of British business size.
3. Participants were asked: "Compared to 12 months ago (September 2021), have you seen the number of staff being off sick increase, decrease, or is it roughly the same?" The results were:

  • significant increase: 7%
  • slight increase 19%
  • roughly the same 56%
  • slight decrease 7%
  • significant decrease 3%
  • don't know 9%
  • net increase 26%
  • net decrease 9%