On average, taking any given working day, 7% of workers are absent due to illness or personal reasons. Amongst these, more than 40% are ill for more than a year. A study by the HR company, Securex, reports the findings on Friday.
Securex emphasises that, since 2001, the increase of absenteeism in the private sector has been almost continuous. It reached 6.93% during the course of the first six months of the year in businesses with up to 1,000 workers, compared 6.7% in 2017.
Although the percentage of medium-term illness (between one month to one year) has remained stable, that of long-term illness (more than one year) has increased by 4%, and that of illness of less than a month has seen a rise of 6%.
The HR specialist finds that, in the private sector, the share of long-term illness is increasing each year. “In 2001, the share of long-term absences was 25% of overall illness. In 2018, this figure was already at 41% in the first quarter alone.” It is mainly affecting workers over 50 (60%, compared to 29% of 30-49 year olds and 5% for the under 30s). However, the increase has been proportionally higher in younger age groups since 2001. The explanation for this marked development in long-term absenteeism is therefore not only attributable to the ageing working population. Heidi Verlinden, an HR Research Specialist with Securex, observes, “Besides muscular and joint problems, psycho-social issues have also increased in significance.”
The HR Specialist nevertheless expects a slow down in the increase in long-term absenteeism by the end of the year. “In the first quarter, we saw an increase in the number of requests for returns to work from employers and medical staff.”
The Securex study was conducted with 25,542 employers and 201,976 private sector workers, and is meant to be representative of companies of up to 1,000 employees.