Long-term sickness has hits record as workers face painful Groundhog Day on pay


Responding to the Labour market overview May 2023 released by the Office for National Statistics, Ben Harrison, Director of the Work Foundation, said:

“Today’s jobs data underlines how urgent it is that the Government gets to grips with the long-term sickness challenge facing the UK labour market amidst worker shortages.

“Employers are still struggling to recruit, with vacancies at over a million, despite falling for the tenth consecutive month. Long-term sickness has hit a record at 2.55 million and the number of people opting out of work on the grounds of ill health suggests a radically different approach is needed to boost the UK workforce. Although economic inactivity has fallen by 156,000 on the quarter, this is driven by students entering the jobs market.

“Workers are facing a painful Groundhog Day on pay. For the 16th consecutive month regular pay has fallen – it’s now 2.0% lower on the year as double-digit inflation outpaces any wage increases. This highlights the pressure facing the UK’s six million workers in low paid and insecure jobs, who are being hit hardest as the cost of living continues to bite.

“It’s not too late for the Government to return to its commitment to introduce an Employment Bill that could strengthen job security and guarantee a right to job flexibility. These steps could attract hundreds of thousands of people into work by driving up the quality of jobs on offer, and ensure that more people are better able to balance work and any long-term health condition they may have.”

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