12-year trends in occupational class differences in short sickness absence among young women

Scand J Public Health. 2015 Jun;43(4):441-4. doi: 10.1177/1403494815577460. Epub 2015 Apr 1.


Aims: Socioeconomic differences in sickness absence are well established among middle-aged employees but poorly known among younger employees, in particular for shorter spells. We examined trends in occupational class differences in short sickness absence among young women.

Methods: The data were obtained from the registers of the City of Helsinki, Finland, and included female employees aged 18-34 years from 2002 to 2013. Self-certified (1-3 days) sickness absence spells were examined. Occupational class was classified into four hierarchical categories. Joinpoint regression models were used to identify major changes in sickness absence trends.

Results: Short sickness absence increased until 2008, after which it decreased in all occupational classes except manual workers. Differences in sickness absence between occupational classes remained over time. Routine non-manuals had the highest amount of short sickness absence, while managers and professionals had the smallest amount. Manual workers had somewhat less short sickness absence than routine non-manuals and semi-professionals.

Conclusions: The socioeconomic differences in short sickness absence were clear among young women but not fully consistent as routine non-manuals tended to have more sickness absence than manual workers. Preventive measures are needed to narrow socioeconomic differences in young women's sickness absence especially among routine non-manuals.

Keywords: Women; occupational health; sick leave; social class; trends.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Humans
  • Occupations / classification*
  • Sick Leave / trends*
  • Social Class*
  • Young Adult