Absenteeism Rate

First published on Thursday, Dec 02, 2021

Last updated on Monday, Jul 08, 2024

From time to time, employees may miss work due to hundreds of reasons. You should expect your staff to be off for sickness or other causes throughout the year.

But when employees start missing work suddenly, productivity in your business could take a hit.

Understand why your employees are off and if their reasons are genuine before you act. Recording your absence rate is crucial to improve the performance of your workforce.

In this guide, we’ll help you to deal with employees being off, what a good absenteeism rate is and how to calculate it.

Absenteeism Rate Definition

An absenteeism rate is an annual recording of unexpected staff absences caused by sickness or other personal reasons.

Your absenteeism rate can be measured against an individual, a team, or the overall business.

Understanding the absence rate depends on the reason for the absence. For example, a parent could call in sick to take care of their son if she is the only carer.

Make sure you don’t include holidays or lateness into the absenteeism rate.

How to Calculate Sickness Absence Percentage

To calculate the absenteeism rate, you need employee data such as:

  • The data should include the number of days a member of staff or group were absent for.

  • The dates when they were off.

  • The amount of workdays available in each period will also need to be included.

Absenteeism rate formula

The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) have created the absenteeism rate as follows.

Absenteeism rate = **number of absent days divided by the number of available workdays in a total period. Multiply this by 100 to get a percentage.

You will then be able to see your rate over a month or a year.

The number of days an employee is off for can be found in your business’ human resources system.

The number of available days can vary from country to country and by year. Make sure to exclude holidays as well, as they don’t count towards the absence formula.

Causes of an Absenteeism Rate

In 2020, the average absenteeism rate for absenteeism was 1.8%.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) may have led to additional sickness in 2020. These absences could have related to one of the following measures:

Furloughing - a temporary leave of employees due to special needs of a company.

Social distancing – a measure to prevent the spread of a contagious disease.

Shielding – helping to protect vulnerable patients with a high risk to COVID-19.

Self-isolation – not leaving you or someone you live with has symptoms of COVID-19.

Working from home has also helped considerably in reducing absenteeism. Employees tend to feel less stressed when working from home as opposed to a busy office.

What is a Good Absenteeism Rate?

To determine what a good absence rate is, we need to look at what an average rate would be.

We’ve already established that an average rate is 1.8%. For a healthy absenteeism rate, 1.5% is what you should be aiming for.

Absence is impossible to prevent. If an employee takes 3-4 days off a year because of illness, this is normal and will not affect your absenteeism rate that much.

What is a High Absenteeism Rate?

A rate above 4% may be deemed a high absence rate.

As the average rate is 1.8% is healthy, this might increase to over 4.3% if an employee has flu or an illness that makes them miss a few weeks of work.

If your rate is below 1.8%, this can sometimes be a problem. Employees may be afraid to call in sick, so they come in to work anyway.

This can be referred to as presenteeism, where employees continue to work when they’re ill. This can lead to a lack of productivity, tiredness, and poor health.

How to Reduce Absenteeism in the Workplace?

We understand that absence can cause problems. But there are some things you can do to reduce the absenteeism rate:

Improve communication – interact to see if there are any issues that need to be sorted.

Introduce flexible working – Many employees can get distracted in a busy office.

Support mental health – Stress and anxiety can affect an employee’s productivity and the overall performance of your company.

Ensure you understand your employee’s wellbeing to create a more productive and motivated workforce. If staff are enjoying their time at work, performance will improve.

How could this look for your business?

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Get expert advice on absenteeism rate with BrightHR

Unexpected absences can cause problems for your business. They can affect productivity, cause mental health issues, and decrease the overall performance of the business.

Make sure you understand why your employees need to extend their absence. Gather evidence to see if your workers are taking genuine time off for sickness or other reasons.

With BrightHR’s absence management software, you can easily track when your employees are off work. You’ll be able to view data and export it easily – helping you to prepare for important meetings about absenteeism.

With our bespoke software, you’ll be able to keep track of how many days your employees are taking off. This will help you to achieve a good absenteeism rate and improve the wellbeing of your workers.

Book in a free demo today or give us a call on 08007832806

Lucy Cobb

Employment Law Specialist

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