sicknessabscenseA survey by XpertHR has suggested that a slow and steady decline in absence levels among organisations over the past five years appears to have come to a sudden halt.

It stated that since 2007, the HR benchmarking tool has reported a year-on-year decline in overall absence levels for employer groups, but the figures for 2012 have shown a marginal upward trend.

It found that the average percentage of working time lost to absence in 2012 was 2.6%, compared with 2.5% in 2011. It added that sickness absence overall represented an average of 2.9% of working time per year.

However, it highlighted that this figure was still significantly lower than the 3.1% recorded in 2008.

According to the findings, the basic cost of absence among UK employers amounted to £595 per employee in 2012, while the average figure was £389 per worker.

When studying the figures by sector, the report revealed that absence rates had increased slightly in both the private sector and the public sector, but levels had continued on a downward spiral in manufacturing and production.

The survey tool stated:

“As this is an annual report, our next set of data in 2014 will give a clearer picture of whether this increase is a blip or indicative of an overall upward trend in sickness absence among employees.”

The research also questioned employers on the Government’s proposed health and work assessment and advisory service, revealing divisions among employers as to whether or not it will make a huge difference in reducing absence levels.

It found that 51.4% of employers believe it will improve sickness absence, while 48.6% said they do not expect the service to help.