Absence levels decline to 7.4 days per employee per year
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s annual Absence Management Survey has revealed a sharp decline in employee absence in the private sector, although the gap between public and private sector absence has widened from 2.6 days per employee per year to 3.3 days. The overall cost of absence to the UK economy is estimated at £17.3 billion.
The Absence Management Survey of more than 600 employers shows that while private sector absence has fallen from 7.2 days to 6.4 days per employee per year, public sector absence has remained high, averaging 9.7 days compared to 9.8 days for the previous year.
The overall level of workplace absence across all sectors of the economy now averages 7.4 days per employee per year. This shows an improvement on the 8 days recorded last year, but nonetheless represents a loss of 185 million working days at an overall cost to the UK economy of £17.3 billion according to the CIPD’s estimated calculations.
One reason for the fall is the active measures taken by employers to tackle absence during tougher economic times, with four in ten saying they have increased their focus on reducing absence levels and costs as a result of the impact of recession. The survey also suggests that increased employee concerns about job security may be another reason to explain the fall in absence.
Although the survey was conducted before the onset of recent concern about the possible impact of the swine flu pandemic on UK workplaces, the findings of the overall average cost of employee absence – £692 per employee per year – indicates the potential economic damage that would be caused by large scale flu-related absence in the coming months.
The survey shows that the main causes of short-term absence are minor illnesses such as colds and flu, stress and musculoskeletal conditions. The main causes of long-term absence are acute medical conditions, stress and mental health conditions and musculoskeletal conditions and back pain.