One in five (20%) of employers do not log sickness absence, new data has suggested.
Research by Grid further found that more than two in five (41%) do not record the impact of employees taking time off due to illness.
The group risk industry body’s analysis indicates that both the logging of sickness absence and the measuring of its effect has decreased in the past three years.
This year, 80% recorded sick leave, compared to 85% in 2022, 84% in 2021 and 85% in 2020. In terms of measuring its impact, 59% did so in 2023. This was less than the 63% reported in 2021 and 2022, as well as the 65% who did so in 2020.
According to Grid, the clear drop in businesses logging absences and their impact is likely to be because of hybrid working making it harder to do so. It says absence is “less visible in a hybrid-working world”, and that some employers may have stopped keeping track because of the related difficulties.
Katharine Moxham, Grid’s spokesperson, said: “It’s important that employers understand that measuring sickness absence is not a draconian measure with which to hold employees to account, it’s about spotting patterns in the employee population as a whole. When reasons for absence are understood, it’s possible to implement an employee benefits framework that offers effective support. Putting the case to expand or change the support becomes more challenging without being able to quantify absences and the impact they are having.”
Among employers that did document sickness leave, the most favoured method of doing so was recording the number of lost hours or days, cited by nearly half (46%). This was followed by working out the cost of lost productivity, with 39% doing so, and analysing indirect costs such as staff covering work, learning time and management time, with 38% taking this course of action. Around 37% calculate the cost of sick pay provision and wages, while 30% calculate costs related to presenteeism/leavism, and 29% look at the direct costs including paying temporary staff and agency expenses.
Moxham added: “By recording the impact of sickness absence, employers will be in an informed position to make decisions about which individual employees or which groups of employees need support. The earlier this intervention is triggered, the more chance of success it has.”
According to Grid, as well as helping people with health conditions remain or return to work, employers should also consider early intervention initiatives to reduce the length of absence, as well as preventative measures and encouraging better health behaviours to reduce the number of people needing to take sick leave in the first place.
Moxham concluded: “Absence management is best tackled when employers have a good handle on their data and workplace issues such as stress or long hours can be managed when this is discussed at regular intervals with their adviser and insurer. There’s a great deal of support embedded into employee benefits, and advisers and insurers will be best-placed to advise how that support can be applied to support employees before they go off sick and to increase successful returns to work.”