One-third of workers ‘vulnerable’ with underlying condition

No sick leave for almost eight out of 10 employees since March this year

One in three employees in Ireland are vulnerable workers, with an underlying health condition such as asthma, diabetes, or cardiac issues, according to research released by Laya Healthcare.

The survey, the first of its kind in Ireland to include both employers and more than 1,000 employees across all industries and sectors, also found four in 10 Irish workers (39%) were struggling to cope with everyday life during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The majority had reported some level of anxiety. Over half cited a fear of a second surge their main cause of anxiety. However, just one in 10 were seeking external professional help for their mental well-being and almost eight in 10 workers had not taken any sick leave since March.

The research further revealed companies predicted an average expense of €37,138 on returning employees to the workplace, such as putting in place new infrastructure, personal protection equipment provision and running wellness programmes. Some 14 per cent of Irish employers were predicting costs of €50,000 or more. Larger organisations were more likely to be providing mental well-being services to support staff returning to the workplace. However, just under half of the pharma, manufacturing and IT sectors were providing such services for those returning to the workplace, and just 39 per cent in other sectors.

Commenting on the research, Sinéad Proos, Head of Wellness at Laya Healthcare said: “With over 270,000 companies operating in Ireland, the total cost of returning employees to workplaces could well be in the region of €10 billion. The coming months are going to be incredibly challenging. Early intervention and a culture of resilience needs to be prioritised to manage people’s mental and physical well-being long-term, both for those working in the office and remotely.”

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