Sick Days Take A Slide

PUBLISHED: 10:30 24 May 2006 | UPDATED: 10:11 06 May 2010

DAYS lost through absence across British industry have fallen to their lowest for almost 20 years, but a culture of absenteeism still exists in many workplaces, a new report reveals. The CBI said the figure fell by four million last year to 164 million da

DAYS lost through absence across British industry have fallen to their lowest for almost 20 years, but a culture of absenteeism still exists in many workplaces, a new report reveals.

The CBI said the figure fell by four million last year to 164 million days, costing the economy more than £13 billion.

The annual study, involving 400 organisations, showed that absence levels were a third higher in the public sector than in private firms.

More than £1 billion of taxpayers' money would be saved if public organisations reduced absence levels to those in private companies, said the report.

Public sector workers took an average of 8.5 days a year off last year, down from 8.9 days in 2002.

Private sector workers took an average of six days a year off in 2005, compared with 6.7 days in 2002.

The CBI said the study suggested that a culture of absenteeism still exists in too many workplaces, with around 13 per cent of days lost to sickness considered to be non-genuine.

Most employers said unauthorised absence included workers taking time off to extend their holidays or have a long weekend.

A yawning gap of almost nine days remained between the best and worst performing organisations, said the CBI.

Deputy director general John Cridland said: "The huge cost of absence to the economy shows why so many chief executives declare that their people are their most important asset. Hard work by companies to manage absence is clearly paying off, with overall absence coming down. But so much more can still be done.

"Employers live in the real world and recognise that the majority of absence is due to genuine, minor illnesses. Nobody wants staff to drag themselves into work when they are genuinely ill, but there is clearly concern that a culture of absenteeism still exists in some workplaces and this must change.

"With excitement inevitably building towards this summer's World Cup, employers may well be worried that staff will grant themselves unauthorised days off to watch matches. We all want the England team to do well in the World Cup but many employers make arrangements for staff to catch the big matches in the workplace.


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