The economic downturn has contributed to a fall in absence of

The economic downturn has contributed to a fall in absence of 10% in the past year, according to Employee Absence 2003, a survey published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). The survey of over 1,300 HR practitioners also shows that three quarters of organisations believe that minor illnesses are the most common causes of absence.

Stress is still the most common cause of long-term sickness absence among non-manual workers and is alarmingly high in the public sector. Almost 60% of public sector organisations cite stress as the leading cause of long-term sickness absence, more than double the number of the private sector. Absence rates generally are are also higher among public sector employees (10 and a half days per year) than among private sector workers, where the average is seven days.

Other key findings include:

  • a fall in the cost of absence to £522 per employee from £567
  • over 90% of HR practitioners believe that absence is costly to the organisation, but less than half monitor the cost
  • back pain is the most common cause of long-term absence for manual workers.
  • three quarters of organisations have made changes in their approach to absence in the past two years. Popular initiatives include the introduction or revision of monitoring procedures and absence management policies
  • return to work interviews are seen as the most effective way of managing short-term absence (cited by 60% of organisations) - almost double that of the next most effective method, disciplinary procedures (31%).