Absenteeism remains a significant cost to business through payment of Statutory Sick Pay and compromised productivity. Absence may be due to genuine illness, working patterns, stress or domestic responsibilities.


  • Absenteeism remains a significant cost to business, costing over £10 billion to UK business as a whole in 1999(CBI, 2000). Employers believe that minor illness represents the most common cause of absence but home/family responsibilities, workplace stress and personal problems are also significant(CBI, 2000). The average cost of absenteeism to employers is estimated at £478.00 per employee per year.


  • Each day lost through absence, a total of 7.8 working days per employee on average(CBI, 2000) represents lost production, disruption, reduced efficiency and the compromise of quality. It is also beneficial for employers to create an environment that maximises and motivates the attendance of their employees. A CIPD survey report of their members found that stress was the second most common reason for unscheduled absenteeism amongst non-manual workers.


  • Employers have a duty of care to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of their employees under the Health & Safety at Work Act. There is also a growing body of case law where employees have sought and obtained compensation for damage to their physical or psychological health at work.


    Health & lifestyle

    Genuine illness/poor health
    excessive use of alcohol
    lack of exercise
    body weight


    working patterns
    health & safety concerns
    travel times
    excessive hours

    Attitudinal & stress factors

    job satisfaction
    career satisfaction
    intention to leave
    organisational commitment
    absence ‘culture’

    Domestic & kinship factors

    no. of children under 16
    lack of flexible working arrangements

(Bevan, S & Hayday S, 1998)


  • Bevan S & Hayday S, Attendance Management: a review of good practice (IES Report 353). Brighton: Institute for Employment Studies, 1998
  • Confederation of British Industry, Focus on Absence, 2000 absence and labour turnover survey. London: CBI 2000.


  • Goff S J, Mount M K, Jamison R L. Employer supported childcare work family conflict and absenteeism. A field study. Personnel Psychology 1990; 43(4): 794-809
    Research into resulting increases in recruitment and retention potential for firms that sponsor childcare programmes and work/family conflict for working parents.
  • McCulloch B, Positive Attendance Management. Tunbridge Wells: PPP healthcare, 1999.
    Discusses attendance issues and their consequences and provides concepts for managing attendance in a positive way This includes creating a working environment in which employees will prosper and want to attend and becoming a more profitable company for all concerned.
  • IPD Survey Report. Employee Absence: a survey of management policy and practice. London: Institute of Personnel and Development, 2000.
    Levels, costs and causes of absenteeism measured by a survey of IPD members. Also contains details of ways to monitor, benchmark and tackle absenteeism within organisations.

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