Employee absences decrease

by 01 Nov 2011

For the first time in 3 years, the rate of employee absence has decreased - workers have taken off an average of half a day less than in previous years.

The finding was contained within the 2011 Absence Management Survey Report from Direct Health Solutions (DHS), and although the rate of absence has decreased, the overall rate remains high at 9.4 days per employee, per annum.

According to the report findings, organisations continue to struggle with effectively managing unplanned absences, and the absence levels sit at 30% higher than the target level of 7.5 days set by many organisations.

It was also found that employees in the public sector took 22.5% more time off than those in the private sector, and Paul Dundon, managing director at DHS said the public sector has experienced a significant rise in absenteeism since last year.

“[The public] sector is struggling to find the right balance of how to manage employee absenteeism effectively within the context of generous leave entitlements, workload and union engagement. The public sector typically provide 15 days per employee, or more per annum”, Dundon said.

Further, sectors which had absence levels above the national average included:

  • Healthcare (11.9 days)
  • Banking, finance and insurance (11.4 days)
  • Contact centres/ Call centres (10.7 days)

Dundon said it was clear that across the board, there continued to be a significant gap between what organisations expect, and what employee’s ‘need’.

“The current approach to tackling absenteeism is clearly not calibrated correctly as there is significant room for improvement across the board,” he said.

On average, unplanned absence costs $3,619 per employee, per annum, and costs the nation between $26bn and $30bn every year.

Other key findings from the study included:

  • 31% of responding organisations believe that non-genuine absence was increasing.
  • 88% believe non-genuine absence is occurring throughout their business.
  • 40% of respondents believe that absence is under-reported in their organisations.
  • Over 70% of respondents considered absences of 2 days or less to be their main challenge.
  • Only 57% of respondents reported that their organisation had a documented strategy for managing employee absence.
  • Mental health was the number one cause for longer term absences, or those that lasted 15 days or more.


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  • by Angela McGuire 2/11/2011 9:41:35 AM

    The article on Employee absences is interesting. Do you have any stats on the manufacturing industry. We have a very big issue of unplanned sick leave and would be interested to see the national average sick leave levels for manufacturing. Thanks

  • by Catherine Duncan 2/11/2011 5:33:08 PM

    I would be most interested in stats on the Retail Industry if they are available. We have been very focussed on unplanned absence for some time now and provide weekly stats to our line management which has seen our unplanned absence now trending downwards.Thanks

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