Canadian Manufacturing

Absenteeism costing Canadian economy, employers: study

Estimated direct cost of absenteeism averaged 2.4 per cent of gross annual payroll



OTTAWA—The average Canadian worker was absent from the workplace for almost two full work weeks in 2011—and the time off wasn’t cheap.

According to a new study released by the Conference Board of Canada, the estimated direct cost of absenteeism averaged 2.4 per cent of gross annual payroll, which translated to $16.6-billion in 2012.

“Unless organizations start proactively addressing absenteeism, this trend will most likely accelerate as the workforce ages,” Nicole Stewart, author of Missing in Action: Absenteeism Trends in Canadian Organizations, said in a statement.

The think-tank said the average Canadian full-time worker was absent 9.3 days in 2011, with private sector employees averaging an absenteeism rate of 8.2 days.

Non-unionized employees averaged 7.5 days off for the year, while unionized workers took an average of 13.2 days off.

The public sector absenteeism rate was 12.9 days, according to the Conference Board.

According to the study’s author, the best way to address the issue is through tracking absenteeism for both length of time off and reasons behind absences.

In 2012, 46 per cent of Canadian organizations polled reported that they track absenteeism by dates, a slight increase from 40 per cent in the Conference Board’s 2009 survey.

But few organizations measured the direct cost of absenteeism, the Conference Board said.

Only 15 per cent tracked the financial data involved.

The study is the first in a three-part series of publications, with research funded by Morneau Shepell, Sun Life Financial, Centric Health, Banyan Work Health Solutions, Sanofi Canada and The Conference Board’s Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care (CASHC).

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