German waste-disposal workers lead league for days off sick | News | DW | 13.03.2019
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German waste-disposal workers lead league for days off sick

A study by German insurer AOK says the type of job determines the number of days off sick taken each year. Overall, the number of days away from work is rising.

Analysis of 14 million clients of German insurer AOK showed that waste-disposal workers with physically demanding jobs needed the most sick leave last year. They took an average of 32.5 days off work in 2018.

Road and tunnel guards come just next on the list with 31.4 days off work on average, and industrial foundry workers after that with 30 days lost. 

University teaching and research staff took the fewest days on the list — 4.6 days on average.

The AOK's Scientific Institute presented its report on Wednesday. "Every job has a specific health risk profile," the Institute's Helmut Schröder said. "The company's prevention measures must therefore always be adapted to the respective occupational group."

Infographic: Sick days by profession 2018

After taking the youngest and the oldest workers out of the figures, the researchers were left with the type of job being the major determinant for their report. 

Read more: Germans are sitting too much, and it could be deadly 

Waste and road workers: Physical jobs topped the list with workers taking days off because of musculo-skeletal problems. Waste and road workers took more than double the number of days off compared to the average AOK insured worker: 11.6 and 11.4 days off for injury to muscle and bone, compared to the 5.8 day average.

Call centers: For workers under psychological stress, it was call center employees who needed the most days off — an average of 7.1 per worker in 2018. Their open-plan workplaces also contributed to the highest rate of colds — requiring almost five days off.

Care workers: Home and elderly care workers needed 6.3 and 6.0 days off for mental health reasons, compared to the average of three days across all occupations.

The number of days off due to mental health also rose 2.7 percent on the previous year. At 26 days on average, each bout lasted more than twice as long as those suffering from physical injuries, taking 12 days.

Read more: Germany sees spike in workers calling in sick

Overall numbers rising

The total number of days averaged out per worker has also risen over the last decade, moving from 17 days in 2008 to 20 days in 2018.

Infographic of number of sick days per year in Germany

Most workers in Germany are not given a set number of paid days off for illness per year. A doctor’s note is needed if more than three days are needed and employers have to pay up to six weeks of sick leave.

The German health system differs significantly from the tax-financed state health system in Britain. The UK gives the population access to health services that are largely free of charge.

Employees in Germany are required to have government-regulated health insurance, either from a public or private insurer.

ta/jm (dpa)

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