A recent survey of employers has found that sickness absence rates have hit their highest rate since 2009, reaching 3.1% in 2021, meaning that on average, employees were taking 7.3 sick days a year.

In this blog, we’ll look at what can be done to minimise the impact sickness absence has on businesses and remaining employees.

Why are sickness absences rising now?

It might be surprising, but during the pandemic, sickness absences actually dropped to 2.2% despite the prevalence of Coronavirus. This drop was mainly down to people shielding or working from home, which prevented the spread of viruses.

But now restrictions have been lifted and things are getting back to normal, the increase in absences is likely because people are mixing more again, so the spread of sickness is becoming more rife.

What effect does it have on businesses?

Official data by ONS (Office for National Statistics) shows that 150 million days were lost to sickness in 2021. Covid had a big part to play, accounting for 24% of absences, but other common reasons were accidents, poisoning and diabetes.

Some sectors have been hit worse than others. Frontline sectors, including retail, had a higher sickness absence rate of 4.4%, whereas sectors where remote working is possible, including finance, information and communication industries, had a lower rate of 3%.

Staffing issues

High absence rates can leave businesses struggling to find sufficient cover, leaving them under-staffed and in some cases, unable to function and forced to close.

Wellbeing of remaining staff

Staff absences can put extra pressure on the remaining staff, which can impact their wellbeing. Without staffing levels being managed effectively, it can quickly become unsustainable and detrimental to remaining staff’s health, causing long term illness and adding to the staffing issues.

Cost implications

It varies by sector, but on average, sick days have been estimated to cost employers £781 for each member of staff.

What can be done?

Poor absence management can leave businesses and employees unable to cope.

The survey found that 4 in 10 (43%) of employers felt their sickness absence rate was too high, but 63% said they felt unable to effectively manage sickness absences.

Here’s where we can help.

LeavePlanner can easily manage staff sickness absence to ensure the correct staffing levels are maintained. LeavePlanner can help manage shift timetables to get cover staff, as well as making working from home schedules simple, as administrators can specify employee working hours, working patterns and rotas.

To arrange your free trial, call Steve on 01252 636 070 or email support@leaveplanner.com today.

For any queries, call Steve on 01252 636 070 or email support@leaveplanner.com