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Employers losing fewer days to sickness absence

But costs of absence per employee are rising

Employers are losing fewer working days to sickness absence, a report from XpertHR shows.

An analysis of data for 2017 shows that, at the median, employers lost 5.6 days for each employee over the course of the year.

This was down from a median 6.6 days for 2016, but a return to the levels that have held sway since the beginning of the decade. 

In financial terms, the median cost to employers rose from £455 in 2016 to £570 in 2017.

However, XpertHR warned this is likely to be an underestimate, with many employers not counting anything beyond the direct salary costs of the individuals on sick leave.

Other costs to consider include reduced levels of customer service and missed business opportunities.

The survey found absence rates are highest in large organisations and in the public sector.

By region, median absence rates are highest in Wales (3%), the North West of England (2.8%) and the South West of England (2.8%).

They are lowest in London (2%), the South East of England (2.3%) and the North East of England and Scotland (both 2.5%).

Noelle Murphy, XpertHR senior HR practice editor, said many HR departments fall at the first hurdle by not knowing the true cost of absence or the reasons underlying it.

“Better measurement of sickness absence and its associated costs should in turn make it easier to persuade managers to engage with absence management initiatives,” she added.