German employees’ sick leave rates hit record levels, according to DAK

The number of absences due to illness reaches a new record at DAK company, as the health insurance company announced an “unusual number” of sickness-related absences. The company identifies several reasons behind this significant increase.

The rate of medical leave among employees of the health insurance company in Germany, DAK, has risen to a new record level during the first six months of the current year.

According to an analysis conducted by DAK, the percentage increased to 5.5% in the first half of 2023. The company stated that this is the highest level since the beginning of bi-annual statistics a decade ago.

DAK has described this as an “unusual number” of illness-related absences.

German employees set record levels in sick leave rates

Compared to the same period last year, where the rate was 4.4%, the rate of medical leaves among approximately 2.4 million subscribers working at the health insurance company has significantly increased.

Approximately half of the employees had taken a medical leave by the end of June. The company in Hamburg clarified that a 50 percent rate of this magnitude is typically only reached by the end of the year.

DAK, as well as many other health insurance companies, reported a significant increase in the number of medical cases due to respiratory infections such as coughs and colds. The count has nearly doubled compared to the first half of last year, 2022, which is the main “significant” reason behind the record surge in statistics.

Furthermore, medical records related to psychiatric disorders and musculoskeletal conditions were also more frequently documented.

The company attributed this to the post-COVID-19 pandemic impact, which saw an increase in infections and acquired immunity, among other reasons. Additionally, there is now a greater sensitivity among the workforce to keep potentially infected patients at home.

Furthermore, all medical records are now being sent “automatically and reliably” to insurance companies, thanks to the new electronic reporting procedures, which also impact related statistics.

The rate of medical leaves during the first half of the year was significantly higher compared to other sectors, according to DAK, reaching 7.4% among elderly care employees and 7.1% in childcare.

The company explained that these professions suffer from a general labor shortage, and these figures show that the issue of medical leave rates remains significant even after the pandemic’s end.

Andreas Sturm, CEO of DAK, stated that:

“We must keep an eye on job categories that are particularly experiencing labor shortages, as stress and overwork increase the rates of medical leaves. Otherwise, we may face an endless cycle.”

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