UK workplaces see a decline in absence rates

Workplace absence has resumed a downward trend, according to the sixth annual absence management survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

The survey of 1,038 HR practitioners shows that the annual average absence rate in UK workplaces has fallen 0.3 percentage points to 3.7% (or 8.4 days per employee per year, based on an annual working year of 228 days) in 2004-05.

Levels have fallen across all sectors compared with the previous year. However, they are highest in the public sector, at 10.3 days per employee, and the cost of absence stands at 645 per employee.

Reasons cited for the fall in absence were a tightening of policies for reviewing non-attendance, followed by changes in workload and composition.

However, despite the overall reduction, 39% of employers reported an increase in stress-related absence in 2004-05, with just 10% reporting a reduction. Stress was found to be the most common cause of non-manual workers’ sick leave in almost 50% of public sector organisations.

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