Sick leave

The statistics of sickness rates are maintained by the Austrian Social Insurance. It includes all medically confirmed sick leave cases (excluding normal deliveries) closed in the year under review. The group of persons covered includes all white- and blue-collar workers (excluding officials). The number of days of sick leave comprises all calendar days including weekends.

A total of 3.696 million sick leave cases were documented for 2020, down 1,038,378 cases or 21.9% from the previous year - before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were 4,735 million cases. 1.928 million sick leave were reported for men (-22.5% year-on-year) and 1.768 million for women (-21.3%). Taking into account the decrease in employment from 2019 to 2020, there is still a reduction in cases of 20.2%: The number of sick leave cases per 1,000 employed persons (blue- and white-collar workers) decreased from 1,366.5 to 1,089.9 (salaried employment fell by 2.1% in the same period).

This reduction was largest for respiratory diseases (-29.8%) and infectious diseases (-27.4%). The former account for most of the sick leave (32.2% of cases in 2020 and 36.5% of cases in 2019). Diseases of the musculoskeletal system and infectious diseases each account for around 15% of all sick leave cases. The "Other diagnoses" category, which also includes COVID-19, accounted for 2.0% of all sick leave; 75,159 cases were recorded in this group. This is more than triple the value reported in the year prior to the outbreak of the COVID pandemic (2019: 23,562) and corresponds to 22.2 cases per 1,000 employed persons (2019: 6.8 cases). The average length of these sick leave decreased by 39.1% to 8.4 days compared to the previous year.

As far as particular industries are concerned, the number of sick leave decreased most in accommodation and food services and in the economic sections "information and communication" as well as "arts, entertainment and recreation" (-35.2%, -32.2%, -35.9%). Among them, the hotel and restaurant sector faced by far the biggest drop in employment (-19.2% of salaried employment), while the IT sector recorded the biggest increase in employment compared to other sectors (+3.9%).

On average, the number of sick leave days per employed person was 12.7 in 2020, which corresponds to a minus of 4.5% compared to the year before the pandemic outbreak (2019: 13.3 days). The fact that this relative decline is much smaller than that in sick leave cases (which amounts to -21.9%) can be explained by a significant increase in the average length of sick leave: While a sick leave was 9.7 days long on average in 2019, it lasted two days longer in 2020 (11.7 days, +20.6%).

Further data on sick leave can be found on the homepage of the Austrian Social Insurance (only in German).

Results (overview): Sick leave (cases, duration, days) since 1965
Sick leave (cases, duration, days) 2020 by sex and diagnosis
Sick leave (cases, duration, days) 2020 by sex, age and section of OENACE 2008
Sick leave cases since 1990 by diagnosis

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