7.6 million working days lost due to flu

October 18, 2010

A total of 7.6 million working days are lost in the UK because of flu each year, costing the British economy £1.35bn according to new figures released today (18 October 2010) by The Co-operative Pharmacy.

A survey of more than 3,000 people by one of the UK’s leading pharmacies reveals that last year, flu accounted for the most number of days lost (1,141) among short-term illnesses.  After flu, the next two most common reasons for absence were colds (804 days) and stomach upsets (658 days).

According to the CBI, there were 180 million sick days taken in the UK last year costing employers around £17.bn. However, while seasonal illness has an impact on the bottom line for business, the pharmacy is warning that it can have a more detrimental impact on the 3.9m self-employed who do not benefit from statutory sick pay.  

To help employers and the self-employed tackle these issues, The Co-operative Pharmacy has launched a flu vaccination service. 

Fiona Caplan-Dean, Clinical Services Manager at The Co-operative Pharmacy said, “Normally only at risk groups are offered the vaccination by the NHS but as a co-operative business we believe that everyone should have the opportunity to take preventative measures against the virus to minimise the impact on business. For some people, having a flu vaccine can help to protect their livelihood in these difficult financial times. It can also help to reduce the chances of passing on the virus to family and friends.

“For most flu sufferers symptoms will last for around a week, but tiredness can continue for much longer and this, in turn, can reduce productivity and lower customer satisfaction. Missed meetings that disrupt work schedules during short-term illness can also have a knock-on effect for the wider workforce, for example low morale. The cost of sickness for employers therefore, is more than just statutory sick pay, but if you are self-employed the consequences can be more far-reaching.”

The Co-operative Pharmacy has launched a two-pronged flu service, which offers on-site vaccinations to businesses with more than 100 employees or in-branch vaccinations at key pharmacies around the UK. Vaccinations cost £11 and include the swine flu H1N1 flu strain, in line with the World Health Organisation’s recommendations which have been heeded by the Department of Health.

Vaccinations in branch are also available for non-business customers. Before the vaccine is administered, customers are required to fill out a questionnaire in order to meet certain health criteria.

For more information about the flu vaccination service visit:

http://www.co-operativepharmacy.co.uk/flujabs or call 01706 202112 between 9am and 5pm.

Notes to editors

  1. Research of more than 3,000 people reveals that more than 1,000 working days (9% of all absences) were lost due to flu in 2009, the equivalent to 7.6 million days when applied to a full time UK workforce of 21.23 million.
  2. CBI/Pfizer Absence and Workplace Health Report 2010
  3. ONS statistics for the three months to July 2010
Sample size UK full time work force Self employed
Individuals  3,173  21,230,000  3,956,000
Flu Days 1,141  7,634,235  1,42,2564
Total absence days 12,937 86,559,252  16,129,458

About the Co-operative Group

The Co-operative Group stands apart from other major retailers in the UK as a business which is owned, not by a small group of shareholders, but by more than five million consumers. With core interests in food, financial services, travel, pharmacy, funerals and farms, it has an annual turnover of £14 billion, employs 120,000 staff and operates over 5,000 retail trading outlets serving more than 20 million customers per week. 

Following the acquisition of the Somerfield supermarket chain in March 2009, The Co-operative Food is the fifth largest food retailer. The Co-operative Financial Services is one of the largest and most diversified financial mutual businesses, operating The Co-operative Bank, The Co-operative Insurance and Britannia.
The Co-operative is the UK’s number one provider of funeral services, the third largest retail pharmacy chain, a leading travel retailer, supplying the travel needs of more than three million people annually, and is the UK’s largest farmer.

Among its other businesses are The Co-operative Motor Group, The Co-operative Electrical and The Co-operative Legal Services.

For further information contact:

Alex Anderson                                                                      
Senior Public Relations Officer
The Co-operative Group
Tel: 0161 2663416
Email: Alexandra.Anderson@co-operative.coop

Craig Noonan
PR Manager
Tel: 0161 266 3589
Email: Craig.Noonan@co-operative.coop