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Absence from work: latest figures reveal record low

Employee absence from work has dropped to a new record low, according to new research. The latest CBI/Pfizer Absence and Workplace Health Survey found the average absence rate was 5.3 days in 2012, down from 6.5 days in 2010 - saving business £3 billion.

Absence rates in both the private and public sectors were down to 4.9 (from 5.9) days and 6.9 (from 8.1) days respectively. The CBI estimates that overall absences cost the economy £14 billion a year.

HR managers in 153 public and private sector organisations, employing a total 850,000 workers, responded to the survey.

Neil Carberry, CBI Director of Employment and Skills said the figures show employers are getting better at tackling the root causes of absence. 'This is down to stronger staff engagement, initiatives to foster employee health and better re-integration plans after longer-term sick leave,' he said.

'But there is no room for complacency. Clearly, when staff are sick, they should not be in work, but there's a lot more employers can do to tackle absence at a time when growth is fragile.'

The researchers found that absence remains higher among manual employees than non-manual but the gap is narrowing. And average levels of absence climb with organisation size. Smaller firms average under five days of absence per employee while larger firms average nearly six days.

Mental health conditions such as stress emerged as the single most widespread cause of long-term absence from the workplace.

Acas runs training courses on Managing absence at work, including practical management techniques and the legal context. Acas also works with employers to develop practical solutions for dealing with stress. Acas runs training sessions to help people recognise, manage and minimise Stress in the workplace.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects page for more information.

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