The finding by the CBI and insurance firm AXA comes from a poll of 500 firms and coincides with the announcement by supermarkets of new policies which mean employees go unpaid for the first three days taken off sick.
The annual cost to business after the rise – the first for half a decade – was put at £11.6bn. By contrast the TUC estimates £23bn of unpaid overtime is worked each year, a net gain for business of £11.4bn.
But John Cridland, deputy director general of the CBI, said: ‘Unwarranted long weekends and staff ‘pulling sickies’ are taking their toll on the UK’s ability to absorb the enormous cost of absence.’
The BBC quoted Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC, as saying that the increase in sick days was partly a result of employers overworking staff to the point that they became unwell.
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