IBEC launches new report on absence levels at work


IBEC, the group that represents Irish business, today published the findings of a new report on absenteeism that found a total of 11 million days are lost to absence every year, costing business €1.5 billion or €818 per employee. While the report shows a reduced rate of absenteeism since the last  comprehensive survey in 2004, IBEC said there was significant scope to further reduce the rate. The report is based on data provided by 635 companies employing in excess of 110,000 employees. The survey was conducted in 2010 and based on full-year 2009 absentee levels.*

The report ‘Employee Absenteeism – A Guide to Managing Absence’ found that:

    • Employees missed 5.98 days on average, an absence rate of 2.58%, compared to 3.38% in the last comprehensive survey in 2004
    • Absence levels were higher in large organisations, 3.58% for companies employing over 500 employees, versus 2.17% for companies with less than 50 employees
    • The main cause of short-term absence cited for both males and females is minor illness
    • 4% of companies cited alcohol and alcohol-related illness as being a leading cause of short-term absence for males, while the figure is 1% for females.
    • Call centres recorded the highest absence rate at 3.67% while software companies had the lowest rate at 1.56%

Commenting on the findings IBEC director of policy Brendan Butler said: “The recession appears to have led to a reduced level of absenteeism, however it remains a serious social and economic issue. Besides its obvious impact on particular workplaces, absence affects the wider economy through loss of potential output and the increased spend on social security. While not all absence can be eliminated, there is significant room for improvement. Over a quarter of respondents indicated that it would be possible for them to reduce their absence rate further. 

“Problem absence is a significant direct cost to employers, as well as creating additional costs that are more difficult to quantify, such as the cost of reduced quality of output, increased pressure on colleagues and increased administration time in replacing absent employees. Pro-active measures by employers such as holding return to work interviews and putting in place employee health and well-being supports can help reduce absence.”

The IBEC Employee Absenteeism report is available for purchase at www.ibec.ie/research


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