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Employee absence rates on the increase

Employers lose a median 2.9% of their working time to employee absence, according to a report.

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This equates to 6.6 days per employee, and represents an increase on the figures for previous years. The findings are based on absence for the 2016 calendar year at 631 organisations.

 

The survey by XpertHR highlights the difference in absence rates between different sectors of the economy. Within the public sector, a median 4% of working time is lost to absence, equivalent to 9.1 days per employees. This compares with 2.6% of time in the private sector, or around six days per employee.

 

Absence rates increase with organisation size, the research shows. While the smallest organisations (those with less than 100 employees) lose just 1.8% of working time, or four days per employee, absence within organisations with 1,000 or more employees accounts for 3.8% of working time, or 8.8 days per employee.

 

While these figures represent a slight increase on the data for the 2015 calendar year (when 2.6% of working time, or 5.8 days per employee, was recorded), they remain comfortably lower than when the annual survey started more than a decade ago. Back in 2006, a median 3.5% of working time was lost to absence, equivalent to eight days per employee.

 

There are a number of factors that can influence absence rates. Increased interest in HR metrics at an organisation level is likely to result in better recording of absence among the workforce – with the potential for their rates to increase as a result. For an employee perspective, higher engagement levels are likely to result in less time off for absence.

 

Cost of absence

Providing cover for absent employees represents a significant cost for employers, who estimate the cost to be £455 per employee per year. However, many employers focus on the cost of paying sick pay for absent employees and fail to quantify factors such as the cost of cover, reduced performance or service, or missed business opportunities, which are likely to make the ultimate cost significantly higher.

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