Young workers twice as often on sick leave

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Young employees are on sick leave more often than older colleagues

Young employees are more likely to be on sick leave than older colleagues. This is evident from the health report of the Techniker Krankenkasse (TK), in which the sick reports from around 3.5 million employees and unemployment benefit I recipients insured with TK from the past year were evaluated. According to TK, young workers have an average of around two sick leave per year. Employees between the ages of 15 and 25 are therefore twice as likely to be on sick leave as their older colleagues. The absenteeism per sick leave is highest among employees over the age of 55.

Young employees twice as often on sick leave While the younger employees are on sick leave around twice a year, older employees only get a medical certificate once a year, according to the TK. Overall, however, this does not result in higher absenteeism among young workers, since the older employees are on average significantly longer than the 15 to 19 year olds when they report sick. While the average duration of sick leave for the youngest employees is just under six days, it is almost 19 days for those over 55 years of age, said Gudrun Ahlers, responsible for the health reports at TK. The expert cited the more serious illnesses that increased with age as the main reason for the longer downtimes of the older employees. Gudrun Ahlers emphasized that "illnesses such as back pain, cardiovascular complaints and mental disorders, which experience has shown to be very lengthy, (...) occur more frequently among older workers".

Psychological complaints on the rise In the current report by TK, special attention is paid to mental complaints in particular, as these increased by around 14 percent compared to the previous year and are the main reason that the number of sick days has not decreased overall. Older employees are also more affected here, "however, we have seen a significant increase in sick leave due to psychological diagnoses in recent years," stressed the TK expert. According to the TK, pressure in the workplace and the associated stress are primarily responsible for the increase in mental illness. The employees are often no longer able to cope with the increased demands of the world of work, such as the requirements for qualifications and flexibility. In addition, the stress is exacerbated by the uncertainty associated with fixed-term contracts. Every employee in Germany is missing an average of two days a year because of a mental illness, said Gudrun Ahlers from TK. For example, although there was a significant decrease in respiratory diseases, sick leave stagnated overall at 3.3 percent last year due to the increase in mental illnesses. According to the TK, sickness absenteeism in 2010 averaged 12.3 days per employee. (fp)

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