Leaving work due to ill health as damaging as unemployment

Leaving work due to illness and injury can be as damaging as becoming unemployed, according to new research from the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) at the University of Essex, The Economic Impacts of Leaving Employment for Health-related Reasons. The study found that one third of those leaving work because of ill-health or injury were living in poverty within a year. The impact on the individual’s finances is as fundamental and long lasting as unemployment.

The study, which drew on the British Household Panel survey data, found that if you leave work for health reasons:

  • You are less likely to return to work than if unemployed. Just 1 in 4 people (24 per cent) re-enter the workplace after 12 months compared with almost 50 per cent of unemployed people.
  • You suffer a 25 per cent drop in monthly household income.
  • You have a 10 per cent chance of having problems meeting your housing payments.

The spouse or partner of those who left work due to health reasons were also affected:

  • 15 per cent of people leave work within a year of their spouse leaving work for health reasons
  • 28 per cent reduce their working hours in the first year and 37 per cent have reduced them within two years.

The full report, The Economic Impacts of Leaving Employment for Health-related Reasons by Steve Pudney, Alexandra Skew and Mark Taylor, can be read on the University of Essex, Institute for Social and Economic Research website.

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