The average worker took 7.2 days off sick in 2003, equating to 176 million days across the economy – 3.2 per cent of working time per employee.
The CBI’s survey of 530 organisations, Room for Improvement, shows the average of 7.2 days a year is slightly higher than the 6.8 days reported in 2002, and is the first increase in the rate of absence for five years.
It is too early to know whether this rise means absence rates are beginning to stabilise following years of decline.
The best performing 25 per cent of employers have average absence rates of 2.9 days a year, while the worst have rates of at least 12.2 days.
There appears to have been an increase in the number of employers operating rehabilitation policies in recent years – up from 28 per cent in 2001, to 62 per cent in 2003. These include counselling, flexible work and medical treatment.