The 2014 Absence Management survey reports an average absence of 6.6 days per employee in 2014, compared to 7.6 days in 2013. The figure for public sector absence is still higher, at 7.9 days per employee, compared to the private sector at just 5.5 days.
Interestingly, data from the past five years appears to show a fluctuating downward trend in levels of absence across all sectors, with the exception of manufacturing and production.
According to the report, two-thirds of total absences are short term (up to seven days), with a fifth being long-term absences of four weeks or more. This increases to a quarter of absences in the public sector, which is twice the level of long-term absences in the private sector.
The most common causes of long-term absence are acute medical conditions, stress, musculoskeletal injuries, mental ill-health and back pain.
Unsurprisingly, stress levels were reported as particularly high in those organisations that had made redundancies in the previous six months. Two fifths of respondents overall reported that stress-related absences had increased over the past year.
This year’s report also highlights the impact on absence levels resulting from employees with caring responsibilities, with one in three employers reporting that absences have increased because employees are struggling to cope with caring responsibilities outside work. The CIPD has urged employers to put in place policies to assist staff in fulfilling their caring responsibilities, such as flexible working arrangements and paid or unpaid carers’ leave.
A copy of the full survey report is available on the CIPD website