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Loss of Earnings - Press Release

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4 min read

by LifeSearch,

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Published 15 Dec 2022


  • New data reveals the financial toll of long-term sick leave on individuals in the UK.
  • 2.5 million UK residents out of work due to long-term illness will lose at least £23,126 a year on average.
  • A quarter of those out of work in the UK due to illness are suffering from a mental illness or phobia, with the majority being female.
  • Workers in wholesale and retail trade are the most likely to be off on long-term sick.

There are currently 2.5 million UK residents out of work due to long-term sick. New data reveals the true costs of living with long-term illness, highlighting that those on long-term sick leave will lose at least £23,126 a year on average.

More women than men are out of work due to long-term illness, with women accounting for 53% of those classed as long-term sick. 

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) amounts to £2,781.80 over 28 weeks. If eligible for ESA (Employment and Support Allowance), and able to return to work in the future, support under this scheme equates to £1,848 for the remaining 24 weeks of the year. This means the total support package for those out of work due to illness amounts to just £4,629.80. 

With the national average salary in the UK is £27,756, those out of work due to illness are set to lose £23,126 a year on average without income protection. If not eligible for ESA, workers stand to lose even more - at £24,974 per year.

The medical conditions causing UK residents to go on long-term sick include breathing problems, skin conditions and blood pressure. The most common complaints stopping people from working aremental illnesses such as phobias, panic disorders, depression and anxiety which collectively make up a quarter of all UK residents on long-term sick.

Medical Conditions Causing Long-Term Sickness

Main health condition

% of those out of work due to long-term sick

Other health problems or disabilities


Mental illness or suffer from phobias, panic disorders or other nervous disorders


Depression, bad nerves or anxiety


Problems or disabilities connected with back or neck


Progressive illnesses not included elsewhere


Problems or disabilities connected with legs or feet




Heart, blood pressure or blood circulation problems


Problems or disabilities connected with arms or hands


Chest or breathing problems, asthma, bronchitis


Severe or specific learning difficulties


Stomach, liver, kidney or digestive problems






Difficulty in seeing


Difficulty in hearing


Severe disfigurements, skin conditions, allergies


Industries Most Likely to Be Affected By Long-Term Sick

Data shows that those working in the wholesale and retail trade are most likely to be affected by long-term sick leave, with over one in every 100 employees in this sector off on long-term sick. Other occupations with above average levels of employees off on long-term sick include transportation and storage, accommodation and food service, social work, construction and manufacturing. 

This data was highlighted by insurance broker, LifeSearch, in a bid to highlight the importance of income protection, should the worst happen.

Emma Walker, from LifeSearch, commented: “Income protection insurance covers a substantial portion of your income during any periods that you’re off work due to sickness or injury. It protects your savings, financial plans and loved ones when you’re too sick to work. The default sickness cover in the UK is Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), which isn’t much. You might have a better arrangement through your employer, but there’ll most likely be an expiry date on their support.”

You can find out more about income protection and get a quote using the handy calculator over on


Media contact
Amanda Ayres

Data Collection


Data split by sex, main health condition and previous industry are taken from April - June 2022, which are the latest figures available. The total no. of those out of work due to long-term sickness has been taken from June - August 2022 (also the latest figures available). 

About LifeSearch
Over nearly 23 years, LifeSearch have grown into the UK’s biggest life insurance specialist, offering expert, independent advice to customers around life insurance, critical illness cover, income protection, family income benefit, serious illness cover and business insurance. Over our two-plus-decades, LifeSearch has picked up dozens of awards for company culture, expertise and customer service. We have a TrustPilot score of 4.9 out of 5 (excellent) and came Top #3 in our debut appearance on the Sunday Times’ list of Best Places to Work in the UK – 

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LifeSearch have been protecting the life you love since 1998. We've protected over 1 million of families in our time. Read our views and opinions on the latest industry news, and what we have to say on all things Health, Wealth & Happiness. Our content is brought to you by LifeSearcher's and guest writers.
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