Legal Business Blogs

1.8 a year: Solicitors take less than half the national average of sick days

A report by the Law Society published today (6 August) into the health and well-being of solicitors has found that solicitors took an average of 1.8 days a year due to illness or injury in 2014, less than half the national average recorded in 2013 of 4.4 days.

The survey, which canvassed 1,517 solicitors between July and October 2014, also found a significant decrease in those solicitors who turned up to work when they weren’t well enough to do so, falling to 39% from 45% last year.

And it seems the profession is in good health, with 85% of solicitors reporting their health as being ‘good’ or ‘very good’. Although this has fallen slightly from the 88% reported in 2013, it is still higher than the proportion for the working-age population in England and Wales, which was reported as 81% in 2011. In addition, 12% of respondents said their health was ‘fair’, while 3% reported ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’ health and well-being.

Commenting on the survey, Law Society president Jonathan Smithers said: ‘Law can be a demanding career. Many of us are drawn to the intellectual challenge and thrive on the high pressure the work entails, but we should also consider our own health and wellbeing. The number of solicitors going to work when they should be taking sick leave to get better has fallen, but many still go to work when they are unwell.’

The Law Society’s report also found that almost all (96%) of practicing certificate holders (PC) experienced negative stress in their working lives while around one-fifth (19%) reported experiencing ‘severe’ or ‘extreme’ levels of stress at work. But, just 2% had taken time off work as a result, the same amount reported in 2013.

According to the report, pastoral care in the form of employee assistance schemes or telephone help lines is offered to 44% of solicitors, however findings suggest that the provision and range should be advertised more widely to staff as 10% were unsure whether their employer provided pastoral care, while only 8% said they would use this service as a result of experiencing work-related stress. Private practice performed poorly on this front with just 38% of solicitors saying they had access to pastoral care compared to 65% in-house and 76% in government.