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Managers spend 20 working days a year managing absence

Absence from work is costly. Estimates in 2012 put the direct cost to the UK economy at a colossal £14 billion. But there's more to it than simply days lost multiplied by daily wage.

Employee absences can also have a devastating impact on the workplace, which is much harder to put a price on - from increased workload, reduced morale, worsening quality of service and performance, heightened stress, missed deadlines and missed opportunities to name but a few.

Absences take their toll on managers too. Research from Engage suggests that the average manager spends 20 working days each year dealing with absence issues.

It goes on to say that only 42 per cent of absence-related tasks involve directly managing the absent employee. But a typical manager of a 10-person team spends 770 minutes a year chasing up absent employees by phone and 48 hours organising cover.

Strain for small businesses

Absence costs tend to rise with the size of organisation. The CBI put the median cost of absence per employee at £553 for SMEs in 2012, compared with £650 for larger organisations.

But for small firms, especially those without dedicated HR departments, the strain of managing absence can be severe.

That's why Acas has produced Managing staff absence: A step-by-step guide which covers everything small firms and managers need to know to mitigate the cost - both direct and indirect - of staff absences and keep an organisation's day-to-day business running healthily.

Acas publications and services

Acas has detailed advice on Absence, including the Step-by-step guide for small firms on Managing staff absence: A step-by-step guide.

Acas experts can also visit your organisation, identify causes of absenteeism and work with you to develop a new attendance management system. See Health, wellbeing and managing attendance for more details.

Practical training is available on related areas, including Absence management, Handling difficult conversations, Health, work and wellbeing and essential Skills for supervisors.

For free, impartial advice and guidance visit Acas Helpline Online.

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

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