Covid-19 third biggest driver of sick leave during pandemic
Covid-19 was the third top medical reason for Luxembourg workers being off sick in 2020 and the pandemic caused staff to be on sick leave more often, a government report published on Thursday found.
The health crisis led to a double-digit increase in the share of workdays missed due to illness compared to days worked in 2020, the report by the inspectorate general of social security said.
Infectious and parasitic diseases were the most frequent medical reason for missing work last year, followed by "other medical reasons", and Covid-19 coming third.
A Luxembourg worker missed on average 4.6% of working days compared to the days worked in 2020, up from 3.9% the year before - a jump of almost 18%. Workers were off sick for an average period of 10 days, up from seven and a half days the year before, the ministry of social security said in a press release.
While the proportion of days missed compared to days worked went up for each age group in 2020, over 50-year-olds missed 6.5% of workdays and under 30-year-olds just 3.5%. If Covid-19 is factored out, under 50-year-olds missed fewer days than the previous year, the ministry said.
"It follows clearly from this report that the Covid-19 pandemic is the main factor responsible for the 18% increase in absenteeism rate", Social Security Minister, Romain Schneider, said, explaining the jump compared to pre-pandemic 2019.
Some pandemic measures reduced the amount of days workers missed due to illness, such as social-distancing, working from home and holiday for family reasons, while quarantines and self-isolation had the opposite effect, the ministry said.
Healthcare, transport and administration workers were absent from their job most often, while people working in finance, research, communications and media missed the fewest days compared to the days they did work. Out of all job sectors, workers in the finance industry worked more days than they did in 2019, largely due to better work-from-home opportunities, the ministry said.
Reimbursing employers for sick leave cost the taxpayer €900 million in 2020 – the equivalent of just over 3% of all salaries earned by Luxembourg workers. The burden to the taxpayer was announced after Luxembourg's national health insurance (CNS) forecast falling reserves on Monday.
Estimates show that the overall reserve is set to fall from 25.4% of expenditure in 2020 to 23.5% in 2021 and 20.8% in 2022.
The report was limited to state employees and private sector workers, excluding Luxembourg's top-paid civil servants.