The History Of Absenteeism Management

Essay add: 28-10-2015, 18:04   /   Views: 752

When employees intentionally make absence from work it is known as absenteeism. In today's working organisations everybody misses a day of work now and then. But when an employee misses too many days of work it can be a big problem for the organisation and this can cause serious problems when all other employees have to cover for the missing worker or in worse cases the work simply doesn't get done, which can cause low productivity or non availability of requested services, leading to bad impression on company's position and name.

People often tend to have different perspectives or attach different meanings when viewing the topic of employee absenteeism. Absenteeism occurs when the employees of a company do not turn up to work due to any scheduled time off, any illness, any injury, or any other reason.

If we look back the history, there is only a small written history of absenteeism in business literature, apparently because until the 20th century businesses had a clear rule, "No work: no pay." Then labour unions forced the companies into agreements to allow employees to take time off from work for illness or vacations and the practice of offering paid "sick days" become widespread. These practices still vary among companies and union contracts and normally there is an average of four to ten sick days per year is standard. Companies have realized that human absence management policies are cost effective; even many companies were unwilling to off paid leave to their employees. In fact, there is an estimate in the current studies regarding absenteeism that those company who have effective employee absence strategies can reduce their overall payroll costs by atleast 10 percent.


Most recent studies on absenteeism have claimed that missing employees cost companies millions of pounds in lost revenue each year. We know that absenteeism can be quite costly. It has been estimated that in the United States alone, absence causes a loss of 400 million workdays per years. Based on this estimates, several researchers have attached a dollar value to this of between $26 and $46 billion per year (Steers and Rhodes, 1978; Goodman and Atkin, 1984a). In Canada, this figure probably approaches $8 to $10 billion.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI, 1999) has carried out a survey and used its membership base to survey both private and public sector employers. This survey showed that the average number of working days lost per employee in the UK in 1998 was 8.5 days, which represented 3.7% of all working time available. Another important correlation showed that absence was positively associated with the size of the organisation, that is absence rates were higher in large organisations than in small organisations.

In calculating time lost as a percentage of actual working time available, the survey was based on a 228 days working year. This figure is derived from taking out of 365 days, 104 days for weekends or rest-days, 8 public holidays and 25 days annual leave. For many organisations the figures of 228 would be reasonably proximate, but for others, a revised base would need to be used, for example within the education service.

Table 1.1 Absence rates for manual and non-manual employees 1998 (1997 figures in brackets)

 AverageBest performing quartileEmployeesDays lost% of workingDays lost% of working  time time    


9.4 (10.8)

4.1 (4.7)




7.6 (6.8)

3.3 (3.3)




8.5 (8.4)

3.7 (3.0)




Source: CBI, Focus on Absence, 1999.

The other most recent survey on the common causes of absenteeism by BBC has revealed that within the UK 93% of workers cite cods and flu as their common reason for being away from their work.

Recently BBC has reported that absenteeism is costing £10.2bn a year and that is mainly through employee's minor illness, stress and family responsibilities. "A survey of more than 530 firms for the Confederation of British Industry estimated that 200m days were lost through sickness absence last year, an average of 8.5 days per worker".

According to an annual survey report of CIPD in 2009, it is stated that the annual cost of absence, is highest in the following sectors of different organisations within UK:

Average £ per employee/year

Public Sector

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