Absence cost hits £11bn

An CBI/PPP survey shows that long-term sick leave has the greatest impact on
total working time lost

Sickness absence cost British businesses nearly £11bn last year, according
to a survey by the Confederation of British Industry.

Pulling Together, prepared by the CBI and private health insurer PPP, found
that on average, every worker took 7.8 days off sick during 2000 – equivalent
to 192 million days.

The average cost of absence per employee was £434. Projected across the
whole workforce, this brought the total cost of absence to British businesses
to £10.7bn.

However, employers believed most absence was caused by genuine sickness.
Long-term physical illness was considered to be more significant for manual
employees, while stress and recurring illness was more common among non-manual

Other causes included home and family responsibilities and low workplace

Short-term absence accounted for the great majority of absence cases (80 per
cent). But long-term absence had a greater overall impact on business.

While long-term absence accounted for 20 per cent of all absence cases, it
cost more than 40 per cent of the total working time lost to absence each year.

Sickness absence also had a wide impact on the relative performance of
employers. The best had an average absence rate of 4.6 days per employee,
whereas the worst had an average absence rate of 10 days lost per employee.

Absence rates were lowest in those firms that involved senior managers in
the day-to-day absence management process.

Susan Anderson, CBI director of human resources policy, said, "Our
survey shows that the most effective approach is for an employer to tailor its
HR policies to the actual causes of absence in its particular workforce."


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