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WTF is Happening in Germany? 61% More Sick Leave Notifications than 2023
Nursing and Kindergarten Staff are Particularly Affected, as Revealed by Insurance Company DAK
As reported by the Merkur, written by Robin Dittrich, 27 Aug. 2023. Translation and emphases mine, as are the bottom lines.
Sick Leave up by 61%, With Two Industries Particularly Affected
DAK-Gesundheit [a public health insurance company, active in all federal states, and with some 5.5m customers] published new sick leave statistics. In the first half of 2023, there were more sickness notifications than in the last ten years combined.
More and more employees are calling in sick. What has been a rising trend for years, DAK Gesundheit now shows in a detailed study. Sickness notifications are piling up especially in the elderly care and day care sectors.
Sick Leave Notifications Up by 70%—Every Second Person has Already Been Ill
The DAK-Gesundheit started its semi-annual statistics in 2013 with the aim of finding out how often employees in Germany call in sick. As the health insurance company states in its report, an unusually high number of sickness-related absences from work were reported in the first half of 2023. According to the report, more than half of all employees insured with the DAK were sick at least once in the first two quarters of 2023 (50.1%).
Such a high sickness rate is usually only reached at the end of a year, if at all. Compared to the same period in 2022, the number of cases increased by a whopping 61%. On average, employees with sick leave were absent for ten days. Sick leave records of around 2.4 million employees insured with the DAK were analysed. At 5.5%, the sickness rate even reached a record level since the statistics began. The WHO also demanded a record value for the price of cigarettes: according to this, a pack should cost 23 euros.
Two Industries Reported Particularly Frequent Sick Leave in 2023
There was a particularly high number of sickness-related absences from work in occupations with staff shortages. The highest sickness rate was in non-medical health professions such as geriatric care: 7.4%. This means that out of around 1,000 employees, 74 were on sick leave every day in the first half of 2023. In daycare, the sickness rate was 7.1%, putting it in an inglorious second place. ‘We have to keep a close eye on occupational groups with staff shortages because stress and overtime can drive up sickness rates’, said Andreas Storm, CEO of DAK-Gesundheit.
According to DAK-Gesundheit, the most frequent sick leaves were due to respiratory diseases. Cases of coughs, colds, and other infections almost doubled - from 17.2 to 34.1 per 100 employees. Absenteeism due to musculoskeletal and physical illnesses also increased significantly. At the same time, sick people have to expect longer waiting times at the doctor’s. Sick days due to Corona infection, despite the new variant ‘Eris’, on the other hand, are declining. The DAK-Gesundheit demands that ‘companies and businesses in Germany should pay more attention to the health protection of their employees, also in their own interest’.
There is no way to sugar-coat this. This is also far from unique to Germany, if less-than-perfect press releases from Austria are any guide (my emphases):
The number of sick leave cases is rising again. The Austrian Health Insurance Fund (ÖGK) recorded more than six million cases of sick leave in 2022, the Salzburger Nachrichten reported today [21 March 2023].
Not only in the pandemic years 2021 and 2020, which are difficult to compare, were there significantly fewer, with 4.5 and 3.9 million cases respectively. Even compared to 2018 (5.0 million cases) and 2019 (5.1 million), this was an increase of about 20%.
And the trend is still rising: this year there were already 1.5 million cases by mid-March. In terms of sick leave days, the figures for 2022 are also higher than in previous years: 77.3 million sick leave days were recorded, compared to 68 million in the previous year.
I doubt the situation is better elsewhere in highly-’vaccinated’ countries.
Now we have numbers to rely on—and a warning what is in store. Read the last sentence of the above piece carefully:
The DAK-Gesundheit demands that ‘companies and businesses in Germany should pay more attention to the health protection of their employees, also in their own interest’.
In other words: your employer will, in all likelihood, demand ever more onerous things of you, the puny employee, to be permitted to work for a living.
A Brave New World, indeed.