In Britain, it costs businesses £32bn a year. However, a study by Dr Wen Wang and Professor Roger Seifert of the Wolverhampton Business School has shown that the number of companies in the UK affected by high levels of employee sickness is down from 17% in 2004 to 10% in recent years. But why?
One reason is that Britain has weaker employment protection laws and lower sick pay. Strong employment protection and generous sick pay were found to contribute to increased staff sickness in countries such as Germany and France, Dr. Wang explained.
But there were several positive reasons too. Profit'sharing among staff and a good working atmosphere were also linked to lower staff sickness in the UK. Our results also show that a friendly and supportive working environment can reduce sickness, Wang said.
In another report, it was found that the British work six hours less than their German counterparts. Britons were also most likely to include lunching, networking and answering emails outside of hours in their definition of what constitutes "work".
A British worker is a happy worker, or so it seems!