UK staff sick leave rates 50% less than Germany
According to a recent study by the Wolverhampton Business School, better employment protection and sick pay is one of the main reasons for higher sick leave rates within mainland Europe.
As a result of the UK’s weaker employment protection rights and lower sick pay rates, researchers claim that the number of UK companies declaring high rates of staff sickness has fallen to less than half that of Germany and France.
According to a study of more than 2,600 companies in the UK, France and Germany, less than 10% of UK firms had been affected by high levels of employee sickness in 2009 than from 17% in 2004.
By contrast on mainland Europe, some 25% of German firms claimed a high rate of staff sickness in 2009 with the equivalent rate in France dropping to 21% in 2009 (from 29% in 2004) but even with this reduction the French rate is still double that for British workers.
A study was carried out in which a senior manager at each of the 2,600 companies was simply asked if their firm had a high rate of staff sick leave, with the response recorded as either a “yes” or a “no”.
Addressing a British sociological association conference in Warwick, Dr Wang of the Wolverhampton Business School commented that “workplace absence through sickness was reported to cost British business £32 billion a year. Our findings show that Germany and France suffer even bigger losses.”
The research team believes that because workers in Germany and France have the luxury of better employment protection and much higher sick pay rates, they were arguably more likely to take time off work without fear of losing their job as a result.
Equally the research team believes that there are a number of positive factors as to why the UK has a lower absenteeism rate than its continental cousins, including more profit sharing, steadier workloads and good working atmospheres.