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Office Workers Lost Over $290.4 Million in Earnings Last Year Due to Injuries

  • New research has revealed which jobs see the biggest loss of earnings when workers have to call in sick - with office workers crowned ninth

  • Office workers reported 109,900 injury cases last year, resulting in over $290.4 million in lost wages due to the time they had to take off to recover

  • The average office worker had to take 11 days off due to their injuries, which equates to $2,643 deducted from their yearly pay

New research has revealed which workers suffered the biggest loss in earnings last year due to injuries, as federal legal requirements for paid sick leave are still lacking.

The findings, pulled together by legal funding provider High Rise Financial, compared the number of injury cases reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to the number of days each person took off work, to calculate what this equates to in terms of forfeited salary.

The data found that the typical office worker who experienced an injury had to take 11 days off before returning - equivalent to $2,643, based on their hourly pay of $24.22.

These figures are accurate for workers that follow an 8-hour shift pattern, and doesn't account for losses due to forfeited overtime.

According to the BLS, there were over 109.9k injury cases reported by office workers last year, resulting in a total $290.4 million in lost earnings across the sector, or $2,643 per person. The majority of cases ended up having to take at least 11 days off work.

The most common injuries experienced were sprains, strains and tears (14%), followed by general soreness and pain (6%) - whilst 3,640 people reported multiple traumatic injuries.

Some organizations choose to deduct wages proportionally, based on how the time off compares to the time spent working - but this depends on whether a worker is classed as a permanent full-time employee, an independent contractor or otherwise.

Given there’s no federal legal requirements for paid sick leave, many injured and sick workers rely on the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to reimburse them for time off.

However, employees are only eligible to take FMLA leave if they’ve worked for their employer for at least 12 months, have at least 1,250 hours of service over the 12 months before their leave starts - and work at a site where at least 50 employees are within 75 miles.

This leaves many new or short-term employees who don’t qualify for FMLA leave worrying about their job security and income whilst recovering from an unexpected injury.

Another occupation that saw a major loss in earnings due to injuries last year is nurses - concerning, given a recent report by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing from more than 600,000 nurses intend to leave by 2027 due to stress, burnout and retirement.

Across all analyzed sectors, the most common reason for needing time off work is sprains, strains, and tears (23%), whilst the least common injury is tendonitis (0.1%).

As sick leave varies state by state - and 1 in 5 workers (22%) don’t have any arrangement to accommodate paid time off with their employer, according to the BLS - many Americans will end up returning to work before they’re ready in order to limit a potential loss in income.

Speaking on the findings, a spokesperson for High Rise Financial said: “Given a lack of paid leave can result in employees juggling an unexpected financial burden alongside their injury recovery, it’s highly likely that workers will return to their job before they’re ready to.

“Without a fixed number of days available for sick leave per year, many workers - particularly those on part-time, short-term or temporary contracts - may avoid reporting an injury altogether in order to avoid taking time off, which can result in long-term complications.”

 

Data gathered from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the NCSBN, with total loss in earnings assuming a minimum 7.8 hour work day.


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