Managers believe that about a third of time taken off sick each year by
employees is not genuine, a survey of nearly 1,500 organisations has shown.
Staff take an average of 8.7 days off a year, but 85 per cent of managers
surveyed by the CIPD say more than 30 per cent of that time is not due to
The findings reveal a considerable amount of hidden absence, caused by
managers under-reporting their own time off. About 33 per cent of the 1,466
organisations surveyed believe this occurs.
Diane Sinclair, CIPD adviser in employee relations, said firms should
develop an open culture. She said, "Most staff don’t want to let their
employer down and if people are treated like grown-ups, they’ll act like
The survey revealed that the average cost of sickness absence is £487 per
employee per year, or £12bn to the economy as a whole. It also found that
nearly 94 per cent of employers say the issue is a "very significant
"Organisations can make huge savings by managing absence. They must
tackle those organisational issues that are leading to unnecessary absence.
Effective strategies include training line managers to deal with absence,
return-to-work interviews, redesigning jobs and introducing more flexible
working hours," said Sinclair.
Although one-fifth of employers do not know the level of sickness absence in
their firm, more than 80 per cent believe it is possible to reduce the current