Hitachi Capital study finds British businesses saved £338 million in sick pay during pandemic as people were wfh.
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM — The number of sick days British workers were taking dropped slightly during the pandemic, according to research carried out by financial services company Hitachi Capital, suggesting that employees may actually call in sick less frequently when working remotely as compared to in a traditional office.
What is sure, however, is that British businesses saved £338 million in sick pay in 2020, during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, when compared to 2019.
Hitachi Capital noted, “In 2019, British businesses spent close to £7 billion on sick pay (£6,985,492,500 to be precise). The fall in the rate meant this figure was around £6.6 billion in 2020, representing a saving of more than £338 million.
“That’s enough to cover 13,000 workers earning the UK’s average salary.”
The total savings figure amounted to £338,430,000, according to the research, and while savings were way up, the sickness absence rate was a corresponding record low.
“The UK’s sickness absence rate reached a record low in 2020 as it dipped to 1.8 days per year,” Hitachi Capital noted. “One of the reasons behind this could be an increase in the number of people working from home.”
However, “while a dip in the sickness absence rate from 1.9 days to 1.8 days might not sound huge”, the company said, “it has a big impact on the British economy”.
Fewer sick days “good news” for employers
Hitachi Capital acknowledged its findings as a potential bright spot in a turbulent pandemic that has been wreaking havoc globally.
The group’s head of commercial business, John Atkinson, said, “At a time when many businesses might be struggling, it’s good news for many that the number of sick days Brits are taking are on the fall, with the increased number of people working from home a key factor.
“For small businesses and SMEs, sickness can be a huge issue, and our research suggests that many business owners can worry slightly less about this issue over the next 12 months.”
But he also said it is important for employees to not feel guilty taking sick days when needed even if they are working from home.
“While it’s positive that fewer Brits feel they need to take as many sick days, it’s very important they feel as though they can take them without judgment, particularly to aid their mental health as more people return to working from home again,” Atkinson said.
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