April 25, 2024

Long-term sickness costing economy £66.3bn by 2030: Zurich

The report also unveiled that the number of workers with long-term health conditions has increased by 27% in the last six years, these workers took a total of 112.5m sick days in 2023. All in, this cost the UK economy £32.7bn, a figure set to double in the next six years.

Peter Hamilton, head of market, Zurich, said: “The wider issue here isn’t about people wanting to be off work – the vast majority want to get back to ‘normal life’ as quickly as they can. There is a requirement for multiple interventions from both the Government and employers to make sure people have the support they need to rehabilitate.”

Hamilton’s comments are based on the findings that two thirds of employees who suffered anxiety because of time off work were not offered rehabilitation support.

Call to Government

The report has spurred the insurer to start a campaign aimed at the UK Government, with the goals of ensuring workplace health and rehabilitation are on the priorities list going forward.

The campaign has received support from Kim Leadbeater MP, she said: “The UK’s workforce is not fighting fit. I’m pleased to say that awareness is increasing among employers of the benefits of improving the health and wellbeing of their workforce but there is more to be done.

“Zurich’s research shows the need to spread best practice among employers about how to prevent illness in the workplace through a national ‘health at work’ standard, including provision of vital vocational rehabilitation services, to return the long-term sick to productive employment.”

Rehabilitation will have a big part to play in Zurich’s campaign, with the insurer believing that the return to work is just as important as health while working. Hamilton focused on the need to include rehabilitation in the UK Government’s recent plans to implement a occupational health taskforce.

Speaking to COVER, Hamilton said: “It’s easy for insurance to ask for tax break for our products. But having said that, we would argue that there are absolute benefits in making it as easy as possible. We want a level playing field there, so there are not disincentives to employers who want to invest in rehabilitation.

“I recognise it’s always hard going to the Government for tax breaks, because there’s immediate deadweight loss to the economy. We would argue that if we could double the number of people who get rehab support over the next four or five years, the impact on the economy is measured in the billions.”

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