Employee Absenteeism

The financial cost

You can expect employees to miss the odd workday for genuine reasons.  However frequent short-term employee absenteeism can be a concern to any employer. Equally long-term absenteeism without clarity regarding a return-to- work date can also be a concern.

Research from PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that sickness absence from work costs UK employers about  £29 billion a year.  Such a staggering figure can be easy to dismiss and just say "Wow, that’s a lot". So let’s get it into perspective.

The average UK employee earns £26,500 a year and takes about 6 days off sick. So if your business employs 100 people, you could be paying over £68,000 per year in sick pay.

How much does sickness absence cost your business?

employee absenteeism

The productivity cost
When people are off sick, their workload has to be taken up by colleagues. In the case of long-term absenteeism, their work must be covered by temporary staff who don’t know the job so well and are therefore not so productive but still have to be paid. And these are only the direct costs.

The result: Failure to deliver on time (or at all!), an increase in customer complaints and loss of business. Worse still, the resultant  reduced morale of staff who are left to do the extra work may lead to others going off sick too.

Measure to manage
Many companies don’t have systems to measure sickness absence, so can’t see which departments are affected and whether the problems are with long-term or short-term absenteeism. It’s essential to get a handle on the scale and nature of the problems in order to manage them effectively. Which tools do you use?

employee absenteeism

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
It’s easy to assume that people’s illnesses and attitudes occur independently of their work and work environment.  However we often find the opposite to be true. Stress, depression and anxiety are the greatest cause of sickness in the UK.  Low morale and high pressure are commonly cited where long-term employee absenteeism is a problem.

“The root cause is frequently a problem within the organisation,” says Dr. Doreen Miller, “so until this is identified and addressed, it is unlikely that the person affected will return to work.”

At Miller Health, we deal with both the individual and business issues that contribute to absenteeism.

Stress, depression and anxiety are the greatest cause of sickness in the UK

Common reasons for absenteeism

Illness and injury: Most commonly given as the reason for employee absenteeism, but often not the case.


Stress, depression and anxiety:
By far the greatest cause of UK sickness absence.


Childcare and care of elders

employee absenteeism

People come to work with their problems whether personal health or work-related or domestic. Whatever the cause, they cost the employer money!