June 26, 2023
Analysis of Office for National Statistics (ONS) data from consultants Broadstone, claims that between January-December 2022, nearly a quarter (22 percent) of those forced out of the workplace because of long-term sickness said that they wanted a job. With economic inactivity because of ill-health surging to 2.6 million people as per the latest estimates through February-April 2023, it suggests that over half a million people – around 560,000 – are keen to return to employment so long as they can improve their health. According to the firm, would be a major boost to the UK economy, employers struggling with staff shortages and employees grappling with the continued cost of living crisis.
The number of ‘un-working wounded’ has risen drastically since the pandemic triggered a deteriorating health situation in the UK – the current figure has grown by nearly half a million (427,000) since January-March 2020 with an extra 99,000 leaving employment in just the last six months.
Brett Hill, Head of Health & Protection at leading independent consultancy Broadstone, said that amid a tight labour market it demonstrated the importance of healthcare benefits when it comes to winning the war for talent. “Employers have a growing role to play in supporting the UK’s health,” he said. “As the NHS continues to struggle and more people exit the labour market because of injury and illness, businesses need to be more proactive when it comes to providing access to quick and affordable treatment via the private sector.
“In a labour market where competition for talent is intense, the ability to quickly diagnose, treat and return staff to the workforce is vital. Moreover, with a pool of eager workers waiting for treatment before returning to the workforce, it demonstrates the latent economic potential to be harnessed by forward-thinking employers.”
The data on economic inactivity follows new analysis from Broadstone which showed that, across the UK, NHS waiting lists have soared by 65 percent, rising from 5.6 million in March 2020 to 9.2 million as of March 2023.
“Given the crisis in the public health system looks unlikely to abate in the short term, businesses that move fast with wide-ranging, supportive benefits structures are likely to benefit significantly from first-mover advantage. Not only are they less likely to suffer from a ‘talent drain’ due to ill-health but they stand to gain significantly from attracting the brightest and the best.”