When analysing data from March 2019-2021, it has been found that stress-related absence at work has risen by 113 per cent. 

During Stress Awareness month, an analysis from absence management platform e-days, has revealed that the pandemic has significantly exacerbated the number of employees taking stress-related leave.

Between March 2019-2021, the number of stress-related sickness days increased by over 100 per cent (113 per cent).

As such, the average number of people taking stress-related leave has also risen by three-quarters (74 per cent) when comparing Q1 2021 to Q1 2019.

The data also highlighted that the recovery time for people dealing with high levels of stress has become longer. This is because the number of people taking stress-related leave in 2020 and 2021 has remained the same, despite the rise in stress-related sickness days.

Furthermore, this toll on mental health has been reflected in employees’ attitudes.

In a separate poll conducted by e-days, the majority of the workforce (58 per cent) reported feeling exhausted rather than excited as the summer months are approaching.

When asked to choose between money or time to take for themselves, almost two-thirds (62 per cent) stated they would prefer to take an additional day off each year.

According to the Stress Management Society, the pandemic has caused three main areas of stress – a sense of disconnection, uncertainty and a loss of control.

The Stress Management Society advises that employees should be able to openly discuss stress and its effects, share their coping mechanisms and take time out of the day to look after themselves and relax.

Steve Arnold, founder of e-days, commented on this research:

With the majority of the UK workforce feeling exhausted and needing time out as we approach what is hopefully the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s vital that employers recognise the importance of a well-supported workforce.

No business can afford to ignore the doubling of stress-related leave in such a short period of time – this affects us all. However, financial incentive is not the be-all-and-end-all of workplace benefits: the key to a motivated workforce is an employer that understands just how much absence matters.

*The e-days research utilised stress-related leave data from their absence management platform, collating 1,500 responses.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.