Workplace Absences In The UK Reach A 10-Year High, CIPD & Simplyhealth Report Indicates

Did UK workplaces experience a significant increase in absences over the past year, soaring from an average of 5.8 to 7.8 days compared to pre-pandemic times? What does a joint survey by the CIPD and Simplyhealth reveal about this rise in workplace absences, marking the highest level seen in over a decade?

Read on to find out more…

UK workplaces witnessed a significant rise in absences over the past year, reaching an average of 7.8 days, a surge from the pre-pandemic figure of 5.8 days. These findings, stemming from a joint survey by the CIPD and Simplyhealth, indicate the highest level of workplace absences seen in over ten years.

The study, which explored patterns in sickness absence and the health and wellbeing of employees, took into account feedback from 918 organisations, collectively accounting for 6.5 million employees. Notably, a substantial 76 percent of organisations cited stress-related absences within the last year.


  • Minor illnesses at 94%
  • Musculoskeletal injuries at 45%
  • Mental health issues at 39%


  • Mental health issues leading at 63%
  • Acute medical conditions, such as strokes or cancer, at 51%
  • Musculoskeletal injuries also at 51%

Furthermore, 37 percent of organisations pinpointed COVID-19 as a notable factor for short-term absences.

Organisations, on a positive note, are making efforts to address these health and wellbeing concerns. The data reveals that 69% of these businesses have occupational sick pay leave schemes available for all their employees. Additionally, 82% have introduced an employee assistance programme (EAP). A slightly increased 53 percent of the surveyed organisations, up from 50% in 2021, possess a dedicated wellbeing strategy.

Rachel Suff, the Senior Employee Wellbeing adviser at the CIPD, expressed concerns over the escalating absences despite most organisations’ focus on employee wellbeing. She highlighted the external influences like the ongoing pandemic and economic pressures and the need for a systematic, preventative approach to workplace health.

Similarly, Claudia Nicholls, Chief Customer Officer at Simplyhealth, emphasised the critical role of employers in providing health and wellbeing services in the workplace. She pointed out the importance of not just addressing sickness but also implementing proactive health and wellbeing strategies. Nicholls believes that such strategies should receive endorsement from the top tiers of leadership and should aim to enhance the capabilities and confidence of line managers in supporting wellbeing.