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Workers who walk or cycle to work less likely to be in receipt of illness benefit, new figures show

Those on lower salaries were also more likely to be in receipt of illness benefit.

WORKERS WHO DRIVE to work or travel by car are more likely to apply for illness benefit than those who cycle or walk, figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show. 

The CSO’s Illness Benefits: Employment and Commuting Analysis for 2016/2017 examined commuting and employment data for people who received illness or injury benefit in the year following the 2016 Census. 

That study found that “commuting can have a detrimental effect on health levels if the individual is, for example, using a car instead of walking, and where exposure to pollution is increased by commuting”.

In the 12 months following the census, the period being reviewed for this study, an illness benefit claim was made by 80 in every 1,000 employees.

Some 15 employees made multiple illness benefit claims and nine made an illness benefit claim of six months or longer. Over this time, an occupational injury – an injury which occurred during the course of their work – benefit claim was made by five employees per 1,000.

A look at workers’ modes of transport to get to work revealed those who drove or took a car as a passenger were significantly more likely to apply for illness or injury.

Of workers who drove, some 91 in every 1,000 applied for illness benefit – the highest rate of illness benefit among commuter categories recorded in the data. Some 86 in every 1,000 workers who travelled to work as a passenger in a car applied for illness benefit. 

When it came to those who walked or cycled to work that rate fell significantly. Some 44 in every 1,000 workers who cycled applied for illness benefit while 63 in every 1,000 workers who walked to work applied for illness benefit. 

Meanwhile, illness benefit rates were above average for those who left home for work before 8am, with the highest rate of 101 per 1,000 employees for those who left before 6.30am.

There was also evidence that those on higher salaries were less likely to be in receipt of illness benefit. 

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“The occupations and economic sectors of workers who received illness benefit is reflected in the earnings data, with below average illness benefit rates among higher earners,” CSO statistician Kieran said.

“The rate of illness benefit is above the average of 80 per 1,000 employees for all annual earnings up to €60,000, with the highest rate of 103 for those earning between €30,000 and €50,000. Workers earning more than €70,000 a year had the lowest illness benefit rate of 43 per 1,000 employees.

“Illness benefit rate was highest for people who worked in the public administration & defence and health & social work sectors of the economy at 132 per 1,000 employees and lowest for those working in Information & Communication activities at 38 per 1,000 employees.”

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