Sickness Rates Increased Again in 2022 and 2023

WIFO Publishes Absence from Work Report 2024
Every year since 2007, WIFO has analysed the sick leave situation of employees in Austria. The new Absenteeism Report 2024 by Christine Mayrhuber and Benjamin Bittschi analyses the years 2022 and 2023 in detail, and focusses on the health and absenteeism of young people and young employees.

This year's report focuses on the two post-COVID-19 years of 2022 and 2023 and shows that sickness-related absences in the Austrian economy have risen compared to the lows of 2020 and 2021. Of dependent employees, 71.2 percent were on sick leave at least once in 2023, compared to 69.5 percent in 2022. Compared to the long-term average of 60 percent until 2019 and around 57 percent in the two pandemic years, the sickness absence rate was recently significantly higher.

In 2023, insured persons were on sick leave for an average of 15.4 days, compared to 14.9 days in 2022 and 12.3 days in 2021. The sickness absence rate as a ratio of sick days to the total volume of work as an indicator of lost working hours thus rose from 4.1 (2022) to 4.2 percent (2023).

Nowadays, sickness absence is mainly characterised by diseases of the respiratory system and the musculoskeletal system. Together, these illnesses account for half of all sickness absence cases and 41.3 percent of all sick days. In contrast, the share of injuries and poisoning in sickness absence diagnoses has declined in recent decades. In 2023, it was 14.6 percent, compared to 21 percent in 2004 and almost 23 percent in 1994. The long-term downward trend in the number of accidents at work also continued.

Special attention was paid to apprentices and young workers in this year's absenteeism report, as young people fall ill comparatively frequently. In 2023, two-fifths of sick leave among 15- to 19-year-old apprentices was due to respiratory diseases, one-sixth to infectious diseases and 7.4 percent to injuries and poisoning. While respiratory illnesses only last 4 days on average, the average time lost due to injuries and poisoning is 12 days. The longest periods of sick leave are recorded for mental illnesses, lasting an average of 14 days for 15- to 19-year-olds, 24 days for 15- to 29-year-olds and 40 days for 30- to 64-year-olds.

The results of the analyses carried out show that health promotion and prevention measures should also be strengthened for the group of young workers. In addition to focussing on the individual level, initiatives and measures aimed at promoting a healthy lifestyle in the workplace and during leisure time are also required.

WIFO Deputy Director Christine Mayrhuber presented the report at a press conference on 2 July 2024.
Absences Due to Sickness and Accidents in Austria. Health Status of Apprentices and Young Workers
Finalization: July 2024
Contractor project: Dachverband der Sozialversicherungsträger, Austrian Economic Chamber, Federal Chamber of Labour