With employee absences increasing, employers are losing almost 3% of their working time

empty office

In 2016 employers lost a median of 2.9% of their working time due to employee absence, this equated to 6.6 days per employee. This is an increase on the figures from previous years, data from 2015 showed a loss of 2.6% of working time or 5.8 days per employee.

According to the report from XpertHR, there is also a difference in absence rates between different sectors of the economy. The private sector has the lowest loss of days with a median of 2.6% which is around 6 days per employee while the public sector has a median 4% of working time lost to absence, equivalent to 9.1 days per employees.

There is also a clear difference in absence rates with regards to the organisation size. Organisations with over 1,000 employees account for 3.8% of working time lost, which is 8.8 days per employee. Smaller organisations (those with less than 100 employees), on the other hand, do not suffer from high absence rates as they lose just 1.8% of working time or 4 days per employee.

These absence figures may seem relatively high especially for larger companies and public-sector industries, however previous data collected by XpertHR shows that the data has remained comfortably lower, as shown in the table of data compiled by XpertHR. There has also been an increased interest in HR metrics at an organisational level which has resulted in better recordings of absence among the workforce which would in turn potentially increase the rates as a result. On the other hand, with employers becoming more aware of the importance of employee engagement, higher levels of engagement are likely to result in less time off for absence.

The estimated cost of absent employees is roughly £455 per employee per year. Many employers will 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 will potentially make the total cost of an absent employee, significantly higher.

 “High levels of employee sickness absence represent a significant financial cost to the business, and can have an impact on its operations and the wellbeing of those having to cover for absent colleagues. Employers should use the data they collect on absence rates to be proactive in effectively managing absence in their organisation.” summarises Sheila Attwood, managing editor at XpertHR.

Absence rates for all employers, 2006-2016

Calendar year

Median, % of working time

Median, days per employee

2016

2.9%

6.6

2015

2.6%

5.8

2014

2.5%

5.7

2013

2.3%

5.2

2012

2.6%

5.9

2011

2.5%

5.7

2010

2.8%

6.4

2009

3.0%

6.8

2008

3.1%

7.1

2007

3.2%

7.4

2006

3.5%

8.0

Source: XpertHR.