Sick Leave Due to Stress, What are the Costs for Dutch Employers?

Sjors Wolvetang, Johanna Maria van Dongen, Erwin Speklé, Pieter Coenen, Frederieke Schaafsma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose Stress-related illnesses are prevalent in Western society, causing sick leave and putting a heavy economic burden on employers and society. For Dutch employers it is particularly relevant to have insight into the costs of absenteeism due to stress-related illness, as they are legally obligated to continue payment of wages. Therefore, this study assessed the duration and costs of an episode of sick leave due to stress-related illness for Dutch employers. Methods Data on sick leave due to various stress-related illnesses were obtained from a nationwide occupational health service database. Stress-related illnesses included tension complaints, burn-out, overexertion, and other reactions to stress. The duration per sick leave episode was estimated in working days, after which the average cost per sick leave period was estimated using age- and gender-specific price weights. Results During the study period, 16,676 employees took 17,338 episodes of sick leave due to stress-related illness. On average, one episode of sick leave lasted 101 working days, for which the costs for the employer were on average €19,151 per worker. Women were responsible for most episodes of sick leave and were on average 37 days more absent per episode compared to men. Moreover, of all kinds of stress-related illnesses, burn-out had the longest duration of sick leave with 313 calendar days and 163 working days, resulting in an average cost of €30,770. Conclusions Sick leave due to stress-related illness places a heavy burden on employers and thus society. Further research should be conducted on how to reduce this burden.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)764-772
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Occupational Rehabilitation
Issue number4
Early online date16 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Burn-out
  • Cost of illness
  • Employer health costs
  • Sick days
  • Sick leave

Cite this