The number of days lost due to workplace absence last year was equivalent to 861,000 people not working for a year, according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).
The CBI’s 15th annual survey Pulling Together, in association with PPP healthcare, found that workplace absence averaged 7.8 days per employee, which added up to a total of 192m days or 3.4 per cent of all UK working time.
This is equivalent to the working population of Nottinghamshire and Merseyside combined, which accounts for nearly 900,000 people not working for a year.
The survey shows the average cost of absence per employee is £434 with the total cost to British business amounting to £10.7bn.
Short-term absence accounts for 80 per cent of absence cases. But long-term absence has a greater overall impact on business because it accounts for 20 per cent of all absence cases and results in over 40 per cent of the total working time which is lost to absence each year.
The best performing employers across the UK have an average absence rate of 4.6 days per employee. However the the worst have an average absence rate which is equivalent to ten days lost per employee.
Susan Anderson, CBI director of human resources policy, said: “It is worrying that there’s such a big gap between the best and worst performing organisations.
“Employers need to monitor the various causes of absence and tailor their policies to fit the causes of absence in their organisation.”