Workers were sick longer during the pandemic

Corona pandemic

Child carers and educators were particularly hard hit.

(Photo: dpa)

Berlin During the corona pandemic, employees were on average less sick, but longer. This is the result of an evaluation by the Scientific Institute of the AOK (WIdO), which the Handelsblatt has received in advance and will be presented on Tuesday.

An analysis of the sickness reports of the 15.6 million AOK insured persons from March 2020 to July 2021 has shown that the number of incapacity for work has fallen noticeably compared to the same period before the crisis – by twelve percent to 144.2 cases per 100 AOK- Members.

The biggest difference was found in respiratory diseases. During the pandemic, almost every third insured person was on sick leave with this diagnosis. Before that, however, the number was significantly higher – almost every second insured was affected.

At the same time, however, “the pandemic recorded longer sickness-related downtimes among employees,” said Helmut Schröder, WIdO’s deputy managing director.

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During the pandemic, employees were on average four days longer on sick leave than in the comparable period due to a mental illness. Employees with cardiovascular, respiratory and musculoskeletal disorders were also absent longer on average. Overall, the duration of sick leave increased by 14.6 percent to 13.8 days per case.

However, because fewer employees fell ill, according to the evaluation, the sickness rate in the companies did not increase either. “It can be assumed that many employees did not visit the doctor for fear of infection,” said Schröder.

Social professions particularly affected

“In addition, in the case of respiratory diseases, it can be assumed that the distance and hygiene rules have led to a decrease in sick leave due to respiratory diseases,” explained Schröder. At the same time, the increased duration of sick leave in the diagnoses evaluated here indicates that the sick in the pandemic situation were more stressed.

The evaluation also shows which occupational groups were particularly affected by sick leave due to a corona diagnosis. Accordingly, social professions are at the top.

Most affected were those employed in the care and upbringing of children (6609 sick leave per 100,000 insured), followed by occupations in occupational therapy (5,867 sick leave per 100,000 insured). Occupations in health care and nursing, care for the elderly and home and family care follow on the other places.

The course of the pandemic waves can also be tracked in the incapacity reports of employees. From March 2020 to July 2021, a total of 3.2 percent of those in employment with AOK insurance received at least one sick leave due to a Covid 19 diagnosis.

This corresponds to around 499,000 employees. The WIdO reached its peak in December during the second wave, in which a total of 705 people affected per 100,000 AOK insured persons were suspected or verified as having a corona infection.

More: Unvaccinated people in quarantine face a wage freeze