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Germany: People off sick for longer

Timothy Jones
September 1, 2022

The first half of 2022 saw a marked rise in the duration of sick leave, according to a leading medical insurance company. But most of the illnesses were not COVID-19.

Sick man in bed
German workers spent much more time off work than usual in the first half of this yearImage: IMAGO/YAY Images

Employees in Germany spent more time on sick leave in the first half of 2022 than ever before in the same period of the year, a major German medical insurance company said on Thursday.

According to statistics from the Techniker Krankenkasse (TK), its employed members were absent from work for an average of 9.1 days in the first six months of the year.

This compares with 6.8 days in the same period of 2021 and 7.9 days in 2020 — the year the coronavirus pandemic began.

What did the TK say?

"The number of sick notes already rose noticeably in the first quarter of this year, reaching record levels," said Dr. Jens Baas, chief executive of the TK.

"After the levels of sickness fell again in April and May, there was another marked increase in June," he said.

Baas said the main reasons for sick leave were respiratory illnesses such as influenza and colds.

Coronavirus not a major factor

According to the TK, the amount of time on sick leave because of COVID-19 also increased in the first half of 2022, with the number of days off work with the illness four times as high as in the same period of 2021.

It said that on average, its employed members were off sick with coronavirus for 0.32 days from January to July 2022, compared with 0.08 days in 2021 and 0.02 in 2020.

But the illness was to blame for just 3.34% of sick leave taken overall in 2022.

The statistics are based on the 5.5 million members of the TK that are either employed or receiving unemployment benefits.

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