Mar 2024 | The AOK Research Institute (WIdO)

Long and post COVID: declining number of sick notes, but long periods of absence from work

Significantly fewer people had to take sick leave last year due to post or long COVID or chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) than in the years 2021 and 2022. However, the periods of sick leave of those affected are still long. This is the result of a current analysis conducted by the AOK Research Institute.

The evaluation found that between March 2020 and December 2023, more than one in three of all members of the AOK health insurance funds, who were in permanent gainful employment, were written at least one sick leave certificate in connection with an acute COVID-19 infection. 1.8 percent of those insured with AOK took sick leave at least once due to long COVID, post COVID or CFS.

The trend decreases over time. While in March 2022, 416 per 100,000 employees insured with AOK received a sick note for long COVID, post COVID or CFS, the number had decreased to 110 per 100,000 employees by December 2023.

Often, those affected are absent from work for longer time periods. For long COVID, the average duration of incapacity for work was 36.6 days – without considering the duration of the acute infection. The duration per case was 31.6 days for post COVID and 29.9 days for CFS, respectively.

The evaluation also shows that older employees are absent from work due to late sequelae of a COVID-19 infection more frequently than would be expected compared with other diseases. In more than 44 percent of all long COVID cases, those affected are aged between 50 and 59 years. The situation is similar for post COVID and CFS.

Eine Grafik, die ein Balkendiagramm über erkrankte Long COVID, Post COVID und CFS Patienten zeigt.

© WIdO

Press release of the AOK

The AOK Research Institute (WIdO)

Since 1976, the AOK Research Institute (Wissenschaftliches Institut der AOK – WIdO), the research and consultation institute of the AOK health insurance funds, provides expert opinions on all service areas of the statutory health insurance. Research focuses on issues related to outpatient care, medicinal products and therapeutic measures, health services research, hospitals, multisectoral care, workplace health promotion as well as long-term care and nursing care.