Sickness rates among charity employees up 30 per cent in past year, research indicates


The number of sick days taken in the charity sector have increased by 30 per cent in the past year, a new report indicates.

The Sick Leave Report 2023, published by the HR systems specialist Access People HR, also found the voluntary sector experienced 56 per cent more days lost in the past year due to short- and long-term illness compared with 2019.

Data from more than 2,000 companies, 116 of which were charities, showed an increase of 45 per cent in sickness absence rates since 2019 across all 18 sectors examined.

The average business in the not-for-profit and charity sector reported 166 days lost to sick leave in 2022, according to the report. 

This is a sharp rise from 128 in 2021, 114 in 2020 and 106 in 2019.

The total number of days lost across all 116 charities included in the report in 2022 was 19,294 compared to 12,345 in 2019, 13,224 in 2020 and 14,823 in 2021.

The sectors with the biggest spike in sick days in the past year were accommodation and food service activities (a 146 per cent rise), water supply, sewerage and waste management (135 per cent) and arts, entertainment and recreation (66.7 per cent).

The only industry to report a drop in sick leave in the last year was real estate, where absences fell by 3.8 per cent.

Charles Butterworth, managing director at Access People HR, said: “This report into the status of sick leave in the UK highlights the importance of businesses in the charity industry adopting a robust HR strategy as a first point of call when it comes to reducing sick leave.

“This includes a strong HR system, having clear policies and procedures, and being able to offer tangible support to those that appear to be struggling to taking an excessive amount of sick days.

“This growth of sick leave in the charity industry could be due to a number of factors, such as experiencing more burnout and long-term sickness following the pandemic, resulting in new highs of sickness rates. No matter what, it’s crucial that businesses act swiftly to identify the reasons for sick leave, and if they need to act.”

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