New research uncovers the impact of COVID-19 on work-related sickness, including mental health issues which appear to be on the rise during the pandemic.
NTT Data UK, a consulting and IT services company, has released an analysis which documents the impact of the coronavirus on fit notes.
Analysing new NHS Digital data, NTT Data has found that the number of fit notes fell during lockdown although the percentage of fit notes that are linked to mental health issues have risen.
According to the data, the number of fit notes issued during April, May and June of this year fell by around a third (34 per cent). However, even accounting for the quarter of UK workers (27 per cent) that were furloughed during this time, the number of fit notes fell by around 10 per cent.
Resultingly, the number of fit notes that were linked to “mental and behavioural disorders” similarly fell by around a fifth (22.8 per cent), in comparison to the 12 month average. NTT Data stated that this would be less than expected considering the significant fall in the number of sick notes overall.
However, again when considering the proportion of UK workers that were furloughed during this time, the analysis reveals that the number of fit notes containing diagnoses of mental health issues actually increased by six per cent.
The research startlingly finds that mental health accounts for 41 per cent of fit notes, an increase from pre-pandemic levels of 35 per cent over the preceding year.
Vicki Chauhan, Head of Public Services at NTT Data, said:
Employee mental health and wellbeing has always been of crucial importance in the workplace. This research finds that it’s more important now than ever to support our health as lockdown and remote working continue to impact society.
These are extraordinary times and until we can return to a level of normality, employers must remain conscious of the challenges that remote working poses to mental health and continue to support this staff as this pandemic evolves.
Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.