A new survey into sickness absence rates and costs highlights an upward trend in the number of sick days an employee typical takes, with many employers underestimating the cost of absenteeism, something Adrian Lewis from Activ Absence is urging employers to address.
The research from XpertHR[i] shows that the UK’s median absence rate has risen slightly from 2.5% of working time in 2018, to 2.7% – translating to 6.4 days’ absence per employee (up from 5.6 days the previous year).
The cost of sickness absence in 2019 stood at a median of £568 per employee, but XpertHR says this is likely to be inaccurate because 42% employers said they did not know if their absence cost data was accurate or not.
Adrian Lewis says, “It’s a worrying time for employers due to COVID-19 and the rise in the number of sick days people are taking will add to this. These figures may well increase this year and next too as the true impact of the pandemic is felt.
“The pandemic has put a huge strain on people and their families, both from a health perspective but also financially. People are fearful of their job security and the possibility of facing redundancy in the future. Homeworking has added to this with people feeling isolated from colleagues and the usual work environment.
“All of this can build up and cause both mental and physical illness, leading to more people taking time off sick. It’s therefore vital that employers accurately track absence and manage it effectively to reduce the costs associated with absenteeism such as a loss of productivity, paying other staff overtime to do the work or having to hire temporary staff.
“An easy and accurate way for businesses to do this is by using absence management software, which will track absence, flag up patterns which can indicate issues and prompt return to work interviews. Having this data enables employers to put steps in place to better manage absence and reduce costs by understanding why people are off sick.
“By monitoring absence trends employers can have complete visibility over their workforce and will know where to target support, such as wellbeing and mental health support or changes that might be needed in the working culture to mitigate any issues people are having. This data enables companies to nip issues in the bud quickly and helps ensure a happy and productive workforce.Being informed is the best way to manage costs and ensure that absence rates don’t get out of hand.”
For more information on absence management software visit www.activabsence.co.uk