The real effect of sick leave

Organizations should make employee health and wellbeing an absolute priority. HR departments from across the US and the UK have faced challenges for years with managing sick leave, but it is becoming increasingly challenging for HR to mitigate this issue.


Illness-related productivity costs US employers $530 billion per year

Integrated Benefits Institute

Presenteeism could ultimately cost UK businesses over £77 billion per year

Britain’s Healthiest Survey

Employers medical costs fall by about $3.27 for every $1 spent on wellness programs


US employers paid nearly $880 billion in health care benefits for employees and dependents. However, illness-related lost productivity costs them another $530 billion per year, according to a new report from the Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI), a non-profit health and productivity research organization. That amounts to 60 cents for every dollar employers spend on health care benefits.

Employees covered for sick time, workers’ compensation, disability, and family and medical leave benefits are absent about 893 million days due to illness and incur an estimated 527 million lost workdays due to impaired performance. This totals almost 1.4 billion days annually of employees absent – greater than every nurse in the US missing a year of work.

In the UK, Presenteeism could be adding significant strain to businesses, with employees remaining at work while sick inhibiting their own productivity. According to experts, the pressure to attend at all costs could ultimately cost UK businesses over £77 billion – in part due to the added mental and physical anxiety placed upon the staff.

The UK economy is currently facing a sustained period of pressure, thanks to slower than expected growth. Central to this problem is the issue of poor productivity, which continues to plague British businesses. Now, adding to this stifled productivity, a study of almost 32,000 workers across all UK industries has revealed that employees lose, on average, the equivalent of 30.4 days of productive time annually due to sick days, or underperformance in the office as a result of ill-health.

What better way to save healthcare Pounds and Dollars than to help prevent the need for them in the first place?

A study performed by Biotechnology Healthcare showed that employer wellness program implementation has seen some real peaks and valleys, but over the last 10 to 15 years, repeated studies have verified a positive return on investment when programs are implemented, monitored, and measured appropriately, and more employers are becoming interested.

Savings associated with workplace wellness programs found that medical costs fall by about $3.27 for every $1 spent on wellness programs and that absenteeism costs fall by about $2.73 for every $1 spent. Considering that more than 130 million Americans are in the labour force, wellness programs have the potential to significantly impact employers’ bottom lines.

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