The number of days workers took off due to sickness fell by 4% in 2011, according to The Office of National Statistics.
Over the course of the past decade, the number of days lost has been in steady decline, and 2011’s figure of 131 million days lost is the lowest in recent history.
This indicates a 36% drop since 2003, when the figure was 178 million days lost.
The chief reasons for work absence was musculoskeletal problems, with around 34.4 million days off due to this. Stress, depression and anxiety was contributory to 13.1 million days of illness, and gastrointestinal problems the cause of 10.1 million.
Women took more days off due to ill health than men did in 2011, with 2.3% of overall hours on average lost by females in comparison to 1.5% for males.
The statistics also showed higher rates of illness in larger workforces, and that small workforces and the self-employed were less likely to take a day off due to sickness. The private sector also had a lower rate of sick leave than the public sector.
The highest rates of sick leave in the country were in the North East and Wales, and the lowest rates were in the London area.
Interestingly, according the National Office of Statistics, those working in caring, leisure and other service occupations’ lost the highest percentage of hours in 2011, at 2.7%.