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August 26, 2011

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Fall in absenteeism in Ireland linked to recession

Worker absenteeism among Irish businesses costs them €1.5 billion, or €818 per employee, according to a new report by the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC).

While the report shows a reduced rate of absenteeism since the organisation’s last comprehensive survey in 2004 – an outcome the IBEC suggests may be connected to the recession – it also highlights significant scope to reduce the rate further.

The report found that:

  • employees missed 5.98 days on average, an absence rate of 2.58 per cent, compared with 3.38 per cent in the 2004 survey;
  • absence levels were higher in large organisations – 3.58 per cent for companies employing more than 500 employees, as opposed to 2.17 per cent for companies with fewer than 50 employees;
  • the main cause of short-term absence cited for both males and females is minor illness;
  • mental ill health ranked as the third most important reason for long-term absence for males (9 per cent) and the second most important reason for females (9 per cent); and
  • call centres recorded the highest absence rate at 3.67 per cent, while software companies had the lowest rate at 1.56 per cent.

Commenting on the findings, IBEC director of policy Brendan Butler said: “The recession appears to have led to a reduced level of absenteeism, however, it remains a serious social and economic issue. Besides its obvious impact on particular workplaces, absence affects the wider economy through loss of potential output and the increased spend on social security.

“While not all absence can be eliminated, there is significant room for improvement. Over a quarter of respondents indicated that it would be possible for them to reduce their absence rate further.

Among the pro-active measures employers can take to reduce absenteeism, Butler highlighted conducting return-to-work interviews and implementing employee health and well-being support initiatives.

‘Employee absenteeism – a guide to managing absence’ is based on data provided by 635 companies employing more than 110,000 employees. The survey was conducted in 2010 and based on full-year 2009 absentee levels.

The report can be purchased at

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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