Long-term absence is not only an issue for over two-thirds of employers (69%) – it can also have a major impact on their staff, says a news report from Aviva UK Health.

In a survey conducted to identify both employee and employer concerns about absence issues, Aviva has found that staff sickness frequently causes low morale amongst those left in the office.

Just under a quarter of employees (23%) consider it no fun working for a company where colleagues go on long-term sick leave. One in five (22%) get annoyed and feel overworked if they have to make up for a colleague’s absence in the workplace. For some, these anxieties extend further, with one in ten employees (10%) worrying that the company will go out of business and they’ll lose their job if one of their colleagues goes off sick for a prolonged period of time.

Colleagues’ concerns do not go unnoticed by those that are on sick leave. A fifth of employees feel guilty about letting colleagues down. A staggering 71% reveal they’d be concerned about returning to work from long-term sick leave.

While some worry that they won’t fit in with their colleagues, or they’ll be treated with kid gloves (11%), others question their abilities to still do their job. Nearly one in five (16%) say they’d worry that they won’t be able to cope with their old responsibilities. Moreover, one in ten (11%) worry that their old problem will come back and they’ll go off sick again.

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Steve Bridger, head of group risk at Aviva UK Health says:

“Our research shows that it is not unusual for an employee to be off sick for a prolonged period of time at some point during their working life. If this happens, both the emotional and financial strains on the absent employee and remaining team members can be huge.

Long-term sickness absence remains an unavoidable fact and therefore an important issue for employers. Nearly seven in ten (69%) employers questioned in the study say that it is an issue for their company. One fifth (20%) of employees have taken long-term leave due to mental health issues and 24% have been absent due to muscular or skeletal conditions.