Employee ‘sickies’ costing businesses £1.75bn a year

Number
of working days lost to sickness absence in 2002 was 166 million

Staff
taking ‘sickies’ cost businesses £1.75bn last year, with many firms believing
up to 15 per cent of absences are not genuine, a study by the CBI has suggested.

The
annual absence study by the employers’ organisation and healthcare insurer, AXA
PPP, found that firms paid out £11.6bn last year to cover salaries, overtime
and temps, despite the number of days lost falling to a 15-year low.

This
averages out at £476 per employee, just fractionally lower than the previous
year, when companies paid out £11.8bn.

The
number of working days lost fell from 176 million in 2001 to 166 million in
2002, or 6.8 days per employee, the lowest figure since the survey began in
1987.

Absence
fell most significantly in firms where senior managers were responsible for
absence management.

Public
sector absence averaged 8.9 days a year and cost £637 per employee,
significantly higher than the private sector, with 6.5 days and a cost of £466
per employee.

Manufacturing
firms reported higher absence levels than their service sector counterparts,
with 7.4 days and 6.5 days respectively.

Larger
companies reported higher absence levels than smaller firms, with businesses
employing more than 5,000 people averaging 9.3 days per employee compared to
4.9 days for those with fewer than 50 staff.

Absence
was lowest in greater London – 5.4 days – and highest in Yorkshire, Humberside
and the West Midlands, on 7.8 days each.

John
Cridland, CBI deputy director-general, said: "Firms can help reduce days
lost by making senior managers responsible for absence management, but business
also needs efficient health services so staff can recover quickly."

www.cbi.org.uk

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