Significant increase in employees with work-limiting health conditions

There has been a 58% increase over the past decade, in the number of people employed in the UK with a work-limiting health condition, according to a survey by the Health Foundation.

The number of people currently working with a health condition that restricts the type or amount of work they can do has risen from 2.4 million people in 2013, to 3.7 million – equivalent to 12% of the working-age population. The analysis, which used data from the Office for National Statistics’ 2023 Labour Force Survey, also found that there was a ‘health pay gap’ of £2.50 an hour for full-time workers. The research has resulted in a call for businesses to be proactive about minimising health risks to workers, stating that it is not enough for employers to do a risk assessment without robust support and training to accompany it.

Younger workers are increasingly impacted by work-limiting health conditions, with the proportion of people aged 16-34 reporting a condition doubling since 2013. This means that 16 to 34 year olds are now as likely as someone aged 45-54 was a decade ago to have a health condition that restricts their work.

Further research found that NHS waiting times have increasingly been impacting workers. More than a third of the 2,235 UK workers surveyed said they have missed work in the past year while waiting for healthcare and of the young adults surveyed, more than half said they had missed work as a result of healthcare waiting times.

What this means is that employers may need to work on improving their sickness absence management and provide an opportunity for employees to share their health concerns and then help to find solutions for affected employees. If you need advice relating to managing absence or employees with health concerns, contact 121 HR Solutions at

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