After a small decrease reported last year, absences are back up to the levels observed in 2010 and 2011, at an average of 7.6 days per employee per year.
Unsurprisingly, absence levels are highest in the public services sector, with 8.7 sick days per employee per year, according to figures released by the CIPD.
The CIPD/Simplyhealth Absence Management survey also reveals that the lowest number of days is in the manufacturing and production sector, at six days per employee per year.
The research also shows that absence levels tend to increase with organisation size, regardless of sector.
With absence levels on the rise again, employers seem to be trying to find ways to manage long-term absence levels. Eighty-five per cent of employers reported that they’d adjusted working patterns this year, against just 65 per cent in last year’s survey.
One key trend that has emerged is that more than 70 per cent of respondents to the survey reported that introducing flexible working opportunities in the past year has had a positive impact on absence levels.
With two-thirds of working time lost to short-term absences, this makes sense – fewer employees will “pull a sickie” if they can work flexibly and get things done in their own time.
“It’s fantastic to see employers recognising the benefits of increased flexible working opportunities,” says Dr Jill Miller, CIPD research adviser and a co-author of the report.
“It isn’t just about benefits for employers in terms of being able to attract and retain talented people – over half of employees report that flexible working helps them achieve a better work-life balance generally, also citing that it makes them healthier, more productive and reduces the amount of time that they take off sick.”
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