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In the private sector, 42% of employees took sick leave last year

While the deficit is slipping, the government is looking for savings in all directions and in particular wants to curb spending on sick leave.

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In the private sector, 42% of employees took sick leave last year

While the deficit is slipping, the government is looking for savings in all directions and in particular wants to curb spending on sick leave. And for good reason: 42% of private sector employees were ordered to take sick leave last year, and 38% actually took it, according to the latest Malakoff Humanis barometer. Figures down compared to 2022, a year still marked by Covid, but which remain high.

Ordinary minor illnesses - colds, flu, gastro - are the leading cause of sick leave (33%), followed by "psychological" disorders and professional burnout (15%), then musculoskeletal disorders (12%). Serious illnesses, such as cancer, only represent 4% of sick leave.

Above all, with 40% of stoppages, small businesses long spared from absenteeism are increasingly impacted, with a continuous increase in absenteeism for three years. “This has never been seen before. Employees were less inclined to stop work in small companies because they knew that they could not be replaced and that this would weigh on their colleagues,” says Anne-Sophie Godon, director of services at Malakoff Humanis. Above all, the three days of waiting, rarely paid by the employer in small businesses, is the first factor that pushes these employees to come to work even when sick.

“But today we are seeing an erosion of commitment and the arrival of younger employees, more inclined to stop,” continues Anne-Sophie Godon. Those under 40 represent 46% of the workforce in small businesses, while they represent only 35% in businesses with more than 1,000 employees. An apparent paradox because young people are supposed to be in better health than older people. “The mental health of young people is perceived as less good. In addition, they have less financial means than older people to cope with life events. Two factors that encourage them to stop,” estimates Anne-Sophie Godon.

Conversely, large companies recorded the largest drop in absenteeism. “This is explained both by the adoption of teleworking, the deployment of social policies (help for family caregivers, social workers, etc.) and the intensification of employers’ efforts in terms of prevention,” explains Anne-Sophie Godon.

Thus, 78% of employees able to do so would be in favor of teleworking instead of taking sick leave. And more than 4 out of 10 employees who can telework have already favored this solution over consulting a doctor and stopping work. Finally, the control of sick leave, higher in large groups, also partly explains this discrepancy.

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