The CIPD Annual Report on Absence Management

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has published the results of its fourteenth national survey of absence management trends, policy and practice, carried out in partnership with Simplyhealth. This reveals that, after a small decrease reported in the 2012 survey, absence is back up to the levels observed in 2010 and 2011, at an average of 7.6 days per employee. Average absence levels are highest in the public services sector (8.7 days per employee per year) and lowest in the manufacturing and production sector (6 days per employee per year). Absence levels tend to increase with organisation size, regardless of sector.

Overall, two thirds of working time lost to absence is accounted for by short-term absences of up to seven days. A fifth is attributed to long-term absences (four weeks or more). There are, however, significant sector differences. Just under half of absence in the public sector is short term, compared with over three quarters in the private sector. Smaller organisations attribute a higher proportion of their absence to short-term leave compared with larger organisations.

Employers are increasingly making adjustments to working patterns and environments as a way of managing long-term absences, and flexible working patterns are also increasingly being used as a tool to manage short-term absence.

Three years after its introduction, just 7 per cent of organisations believe that the fit note has helped to reduce absence, possibly because nearly three quarters disagree that it is being used effectively by GPs.

Stress and musculoskeletal conditions are no longer the main causes of long-term absence, with acute conditions (for example cancer, heart attacks and strokes) now being the biggest reason for long-term absence.

The full report can be viewed on the CIPD website after registering for a free account.

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