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Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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High sick leave rates among charity employees steeply rising

This news post is about 1 year old

Charities do not compare favourably to other sectors when it comes to absence

Employees of third sector organisation take more sick days than many other sectors, a new report has found.

Charites rank 13 out of 18 in the report compiled by Access PeopleHR, an HR specialist.

The average organisation in the sector reported 166 days lost to sick leave in 2022 – an increase of 30% in the past year.

This compares sharply to first on the list, the recruitment sector, where just 13 sick leave days is reported by each business.

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.

Other sectors with the biggest spike in sick days in the past year were accommodation and food service activities with a 146% rise, water supply, sewerage and waste management at 135% and arts, entertainment and recreation which saw a 66.7% rise.

Charles Butterworth, managing director of Access People, said the report highlights the importance of businesses adopting a robust HR strategy as a first point of call when it comes to reducing sick leave.

This includes a HR system, having clear policies and procedures, and offering tangible support to those that appear to be taking excessive sick days, he said.  

He added: “This increase overall in the UK in sickness rates could be as a result of COVID-19, and people feeling that it’s more important to take time off for their health, with less industry-wide guilt attached to taking time off work and a nationwide effort to remove the stigma associated with the ‘badge of honour’ mentality. 

“On the other hand, it may be that people are 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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John Chivall
about 1 year ago

Frustratingly the figures are not normalised to headcount - there's a big difference between an organisation with 100 staff having 166 sick days vs one with 20 staff. Without knowing sick days per FTE the headline total sick days in the sampled organisations is almost meaningless information.

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about 1 year ago

Please link to the resources you refer to! here it is for those who want more info

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Rab Armour
about 1 year ago

The link is in the text

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