economic downturn has contributed to a 10 per cent fall in absence levels as
employees increasingly fear the threat of redundancy.
Absence 2003, a survey of more than HR 1,300 practitioners by the Chartered
Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), shows a fall from an average of
10 to nine days per person.
survey also shows that three-quarters of organisations believe that minor
illnesses such as colds and flu are the most common causes of absence compared
with just over half last year.
is still the most common cause of long-term sickness absence among non-manual
workers and is alarmingly high in the public sector with just under 60 per cent
of organisations citing stress as the leading cause. Less than 30 per cent of
private sector organisations regard stress as the major cause of long-term
research also shows that 38 per cent of NHS workers and 30 per cent of local
government workers find their work either stressful or very stressful against
an average of 25 per cent for all workers.
from the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) show there are around 260
attacks on health workers each day, and the committee is calling on the
Department of Health and the NHS to introduce measures to better protect
consultancy, legal services and the media suffer the least from time-off, with
absence levels barely more than half the national average.
Almost a third of organisations say that job insecurity has increased during
the past year, twice as many as those who say it has decreased. Of those
organisations reporting a rise in job insecurity, almost half attribute the
fall in absence to the threat of redundancy.
The cost of absence has increased from £522 per employee to £567 during the
The highest absence levels are found in the food, drink and tobacco sectors
(13.4 days per year), agriculture and forestry (12.5 days), textiles (12.2),
local government (including police and fire service) (11.5), and healthcare
The lowest absence levels are found in consultancy (4.7 days per year), IT (5.5
days), media and publishing (5.6), legal and property services and construction
(5.8) and financial services (6.7).
More than 90 per cent of HR practitioners believe that absence is costly to the
organisation, but less than half monitor this cost.
Back pain is the most common cause of long-term absence for manual workers,
while stress is the most common reason for all other workers.
Three-quarters of organisations have made changes to their approach to absence
in the past two years. The most popular initiatives include the introduction or
revision of monitoring procedures and the introduction of new or revised
absence management policies, cited by 69 per cent and 62 per cent of
Return-to-work interviews are seen as the most effective way of managing
short-term absence (cited by 60 per cent of organisations) – almost double the
next most effective method, disciplinary procedures (31 per cent).