Sick pay: New research shows home working has saved firms hundreds of millions

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Over the course of the Covid pandemic, many workers have become accustomed to working from home as the new norm. Remote working was one of the first measures that the Government imposed on the UK public. Now, new research has shown that it’s not just helped to save lives but also businesses money when it comes to sick pay.

Research conducted by Hitachi Capital PLC – a leading financial services company – has revealed the true impact that working from home has had, since the Covid pandemic began, on sickness absences in the UK.

The company analysed data made available by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and combined it with average salary and employment data from Statista.

Indeed, it should be noted that the study looked at figures which relate to the first year of the pandemic in the UK.

Overall, their research found that work absences fell by 5.3 percent in the first year that Covid was present in the UK.

This equates to an average of 1.8 days per year, saving the British economy £338,430,000 annually.

In 2019, British businesses spent approximately £6,985,492,500 on sickness pay.

However, as the Covid pandemic caused a large number of the working population to do their jobs from home, this number fell to £6,647,062,500 in 2020.

Furthermore, the research examined the split between male and female UK workers.

Here, it was found that the female sickness absence rate fell from 2.4 to 2.3 percent during the first year of the Covid pandemic.

Consequently, this would save British businesses more than £137 million per year.

Meanwhile, the male rate fell from 1.6 to 1.5 percent, which equates to savings of £192 million per year in sick pay.

Despite the arrival of Covid the virus wasn’t actually the biggest cause of illness absences in the UK during this period.

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Instead, minor illnesses and musculoskeletal issues were the top two reasons given for taking a sick day.

Covid was ranked fourth on this list, according to ONS figures.

Commenting on the findings the company’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 (small and medium-sized enterprises), 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.”

The Government’s guidance to work from home where possible has been in force for more than a week now.

Speaking when the measure was introduced the Prime Minister said: “Go to work if you must, but work from home if you can.”

Figures from the ONS have shown that slightly fewer than 36 percent of British workers did some form of work from home in 2020.

In fact, during the last week of November seven in 10 people travelled to work at least once.

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