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Larger organisations suffer from higher absence rates

Statistics show that there's usually some variation in absence rates between the public and private sector. But one variable has a bigger impact on absence, regardless of sector - the size of the organisation.

Larger organisations tend to have higher levels of absence than smaller ones, according to research undertaken by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development for its Absence Management Survey.

In organisations of 1 to 49 people and 50 to 249 people, the average number of days lost per employee per year was found to be 6.6 days. This rose to 8.3 days for organisations of 250 to 999 people, and jumped again to 9.0 days for those of 1,000 to 4,999 UK employees. For the largest organisations of all with more than 5,000 employees, the figure was higher still at 9.2 days.

The report said that absences tend to be less noticed in larger organisations, where it's often easier to cover for missing staff. In smaller organisations absences are usually not only more noticeable but also more disruptive. Sick pay provision in SMEs could be less generous than in large companies discouraging people from being away, and giving greater incentive to return to work as soon as possible.

The survey revealed that absences overall had risen back to the levels of 2010 and 2011, after a dip last year. As a result, 85 per cent of employers said that they had adjusted working patterns (compared to 65 per cent last year) to try to tackle the rising rates.

Of those who expressed an opinion on the matter, 70 per cent of respondents said that introducing flexible working opportunities had had a positive impact on absence levels.

Acas can help your organisation with Managing absence. Acas also runs practical training courses on Absence, Creating an attendance culture, and Flexible working, which may help your managers communicate the impacts of absence and put clear and fair absence management policies in place.

Visit the Acas Training and Business Solutions area for more information.

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