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Survey finds absence rates no longer declining

BY Donald MacKinnon
Employment Law & HR
BG Purple

A slow and steady decline in absence levels among organisations over the past five years appears to have come to a sudden halt, according to figures from a recent survey.

Since 2007, surveys in this area have reported a year-on-year decline in overall absence levels for UK employers. But figures for 2012 have now shown a marginal upward trend.

The median percentage of working time lost to absence in 2012 was 2.6%, compared with 2.5% in 2011. Overall, sickness absence represented an average of 2.9% of working time per annum, the research found. However, the survey report also stressed the 2012 figure was still significantly lower than the 3.1% recorded in 2008.

The basic cost of absence among UK employers amounted to £595 per employee in 2012. The median figure was £389 per head.

When broken down by sector, absence rates had increased slightly in both the private sector and in the public sector. But levels had continued on a downward trajectory in manufacturing and production, the report said.

The research also revealed opinion among employers, as to whether or not the Government's proposed health and work assessment and advisory service (due to come into operation in Spring 2014) will make much of a difference in reducing absence levels, was divided.

Marginally more employers (51.4%) indicated that they expected the service to improve sickness absence than those that do not (48.6%), the survey found.

LAWmail will feature more information about the new Government scheme as and when we have more detail.

If the management of absence is a challenge for your managers, Law At Work’s In-house Training Services can provide a cost-effective way of ensuring that your own absence rates do not rise in line with the general trend. 

Why not give our Ian Watson a call on 0131 603 5205 or email him on to discuss how our managers’ course on Absence can be tailored to your own procedures and culture?

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