Stress is now top reason for lengthy sick leave
Mental health issues have overtaken physical injury as the cause of the longest absences from work.
About 55 per cent of people who suffer stress or other mental conditions on the job are taking five or more sick days in a row, figures from the Bureau of Statistics publication, Australian Social Trends, June 2011, show.
And research to be released this year shows that workers with mild levels of depression take twice as many sick days. About 20 per cent of the working population experience mild levels of depression, the research indicates.
Workers off sick with a job-related mental disorder take an average of 10.8 weeks off, and experts say workplace bullying and harassment, as well as heavy workloads, are leading to the rise in mental stress claims.
Comcare, the federal work health and safety regulator, said while injury compensation claims by government workers fell in the same period, it is concerned at the growing proportion of claims for workplace stress.