The number of long sickness absences increases once more 

A total 286,630 persons received sickness allowance payments from Kela in 2017. The number of new payments has decreased significantly from ten years ago. However, the number of new payments again increased in 2017, just as did the number of sickness allowance recipients and their share of the working-age population. 

Sickness allowance recipiency is an indicator of the prevalence of long sickness absences in the working-age population.

Mental health disorders a more common cause of sickness allowance payment 

In 2017, sickness allowance was paid for a total of 14.1 million days, and the total expenditure reached EUR 764 million. Partial sickness allowance was paid for 1.1 days at a total cost of EUR 37 million. The number days on partial sickness allowance has increased from year to year. 

In 2017, 30% of the days on sickness allowance were due to musculoskeletal disorders, while 29% were caused by mental health and behavioural disorders. Musculoskeletal disorders, in particular, have over the past 10 years grown less common as a cause of sickness allowance payments. 

At the same time, mental health disorders are now a more frequent cause of sickness allowance recipiency, and account for nearly as many days of payment as musculoskeletal disorders.

Differences between occupational groups

Long sickness absences are more common in manual occupations than in white-collar occupations. 

Sickness allowance payments due particularly to musculoskeletal disorders are more common among persons performing physically demanding work than in other groups. Daily allowance payments on account of mental health disorders show only small differences between occupational groups. 

Sickness absences are more common among women than among men. 

Long sickness absence is often a precursor to retirement on a disability pension 

About a third of all sickness allowance spells last longer than 30 working days. 


Extended periods of sickness absence often lead to retirement on a disability pension, which is typically preceded by a sickness absence of about one year. 

However, receipt of sickness allowance can be a predictor of disability retirement many years earlier. 

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  • Research: Jenni Blomgren, Head of Research Team, tel. +358 50 5522 286
  • Statistics: Siru Keskinen, Coordinator, tel. +358 20 634 1372

email: firstname.lastname@kela.fi

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