Middle-aged workers take more sick days than any other age group, according to new research from AXA PPP healthcare.

The online study of 2000 employees showed that 30-49 year olds averaged 2.3 sick days in the past six months, with a quarter of this age group taking 3 or 4 days off due to illness. Twelve percent of this middle age group have taken the equivalent of a working week off sick (5 or 6 days) in the past six months, double the number  of 18-29 year olds (6%) and just 5 percent of those aged 50-69.

Dr Steve Iley, AXA PPP healthcare’s medical director for health services, said:

“Employers need to recognise that these middle aged workers are a particularly squeezed group, struggling with work and home pressures.

“The research suggests that many are not motivated or feeling valued in their work, an issue we would encourage employers to proactively address as the 30-49 age group are likely to have at least 20 years left in the workplace. Employers need to support their workers’ mental and physical health, offering positive steps to ensure wellbeing now will help to ensure resilience in future.”

Other key findings from the research included:

  • Middle-aged workers are not taking positive steps to help ensure good health. One in five 30-49-year-olds regularly skip meals altogether five or more days per week compared with 15 percent of 18-29-year-olds and just 8 percent of those aged 50-69
  • These workers also demonstrate a fairly negative outlook with regards to their jobs. 15 percent of 30-49-year-olds feel they don’t have a career path, and 29 per cent of 30-49 year olds say they feel as if their career path has reached a plateau
  • 27 percent of middle-aged workers – the most of any age group – feel as if their employment situation does not allow them to pursue their top life priorities
  • 38 percent of middle-aged workers feel stressed all or most of the time. The chief causes of stress for this age group are: financial worries (43%) and pressure from or worries about work (41% and 38%, respectively). 37 percent of workers in their 30s say they feel older than their years