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Long-term sickness absence is at a record high

There has been a marked increase in the number of people absent from work due to mental illness, and other disabilities. This increase is likely to have been exacerbated by the pandemic which has had a significant toll on mental health, as well as increasing waiting lists for treatment and the effects of long Covid. However, it's noted that the health of the nation was deteriorating before the pandemic.

Interestingly, the highest rates of sickness absence appear to be in sectors such as retail, transport and hospitality, and other sectors where working from home isn't possible. 

We've seen an increase in the number of clients approaching us to advise in respect of their obligations to employees who are absent from work due to long-term sickness. It's an ever present challenge for employers to balance their obligations to employees whilst they are unwell, whilst balancing the needs of the remaining workforce and the business as a whole. 

Both long waiting lists and long Covid are part of the problem, independent charity the Health Foundation says - but as sickness rates began rising a year before the pandemic, they are unlikely to be the main causes.