Over-45s twice as likely to experience long-term sickness absence in the UK workplace

Image of a doctor with a stethoscope and arms folded

New UK government figures[1] report the dramatic increase in the likelihood of long-term sickness absence when we age (i.e. an employment absence of four weeks of more).

With the UK’s workforce ageing, this has worrying implications for individuals’ careers and financial futures. Aviva is investing in “Mid-Life MOTs” to support the wellbeing of its people aged 45-and-above. Aviva calls upon other employers to follow its lead.

Commenting, Alistair McQueen, Head of Savings & Retirement at Aviva, said:

“Today’s data reports a worrying increase in the probability of experiencing long-term sickness absence as we age. Three per cent of workers under the age of 45 experienced a long-term absence from work as a result of sickness in 2018. This doubled to six per cent among the 45-and-over population. In 2018, 773,000 workers aged 45-and-over had to take time off due to poor health, of which 59,000 subsequently left work completely.

“There are more than 10 million people in work in the UK aged 50 and above. This is more than ever before, and it is the fastest growing employee population in the country. We estimate that by 2025 the over-50s will represent one-in-three workers.

“The UK already experiences a collapse in employment participation as we age. A further acceleration of this collapse due to health complications represents a great loss to the individual – challenging their ability to contribute, earn, and save for tomorrow.

“Aviva is the first large UK employer to invest in “Mid-Life MOTs” for workers aged 45 and above. These educational seminars provide targeted guidance in how to manage our wellbeing, wealth and work from this point in our lives. Early results show a 20% increase in employee confidence after the MOT.

“Aviva sees the Mid-Life MOT as an investment in its people and in its business. Aviva is committed to ensuring that age is no barrier to opportunity.”

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Sources contain public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.


Media enquiries

Fiona Whytock

Retirement, Savings & Investments

Notes to editors:


  • Aviva provides life insurance, general insurance, health insurance and asset management to 33 million customers.
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