Absenteeism is one of the top hidden issues that causes businesses to lose money through reduced productivity, performance, and team morale. What’s more, it can be difficult to determine whether your company is a victim of high absenteeism or not.
That’s why we’ve compiled this list of workplace absenteeism statistics, arranged into sections including absenteeism causes and effects among other topics.
If you want to better understand and improve workplace attendance, understanding these stats on workplace absenteeism is a great place to start.
Workplace Absenteeism Statistics (Top Highlights)
- The average workplace absenteeism rate in the US is 3.2%.
- Daily, around one million workers are absent from work due to stress.
- Service occupations have the highest total absence rate.
- The finance industry has the lowest total absence rate in the private sector.
- Farmers, foresters, and fishers generate the lowest annual cost of lost productivity due to absenteeism.
- The annual incremental absenteeism costs of smoker workers in the US are estimated at $218.5 billion.
- At $2.21 billion, obesity-related absenteeism costs are the highest in Brazil.
General Workplace Absenteeism Statistics
1. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average absence rate in 2021 was 3.2%.
In the US, the average annual absence rate in 2021 for the private sector was 3.1%, and for the public sector, the absenteeism rate was 3.5%.
The most common reasons for absence include:
- Short-term disability, which includes illness or injury as well as personal or family medical leave.
- Sickness, which includes mental disorders that result in temporary inability to work or need for treatment or counseling.
- Personal reasons such as vacations and holidays.
The absence rate is a calculated value determined by comparing the number of workers who are absent from their job to the total number of full-time workers.
2. The average workplace sickness absenteeism rate in the UK stands at 2.2%.
While the workplace sickness absenteeism rate reaching up to 4 is considered acceptable, anything beyond that is considered high. However, missing up to a few weeks of work due to conditions such as the flu and the like can raise the absenteeism rate to 4.3.
On the other hand, anything below 1.8 is referred to as presenteeism, where people continue coming to work even when they’re sick.
3. Around 7.8 million workers were absent from work due to medical reasons in January 2022.
Medical reasons in this regard include having an illness, injury, or a medical appointment scheduled. The above figure stood at 3.7 million in January 2021, adding up to a YoY increase of over 110%.
Of those, 4.2 million full-time workers (3.3% of them) worked part-time due to medical reasons in January 2022. This is a 57% increase from the figure in January 2021 when it stood at 1.8 million. Another 3.6 million workers didn’t work at all due to medical reasons.
4. Roughly one million workers a day are absent from work due to stress.
Workers who are absent due to mental-health-induced reasons are 7x more likely to have further absences than those missing work due to physical health issues.
Absenteeism Rates by Occupation and Industry
5. At 4.2, service occupations have the highest total absence rate by occupation.
Of that rate, 3.1 is accounted for by illness or injuries and 1.1 by other reasons. The total lost work time rate of service occupations stands at 2.4, with 1.8 due to illness or injury and 0.6 due to other reasons.
Within this category, healthcare support occupations are the ones with the highest absence rate of 5.0 (3.5 due to illness or injury and 1.5 due to other reasons). On the other side of the spectrum, the protective services occupations have the lowest absence rate of 3.5 (2.7 due to illness or injury and 0.8 due to other reasons).
Of that rate, 1.6 is accounted for by illness or injuries and 0.9 by other reasons. The total lost work time rate of management, professional, and related occupations stands at 1.5, with 0.9 due to illness or injury and 0.6 due to other reasons.
Within this category, life, physical, and social science occupations are the ones with the highest absence rate of 3.8 (2.2 due to illness or injury and 1.6 due to other reasons). On the other side of the spectrum, management occupations have the lowest absence rate of 1.9 (1.2 due to illness or injury and 0.7 due to other reasons).
7. The public sector has slightly higher absenteeism rates than the private sector.
The total absence rate in the public sector stands at 3.5 (2.4 due to illness or injury and 1.1 due to other reasons). The total lost work time rate is 2.1 (1.4 due to illness or injury and 0.7 due to other reasons).
On the other hand, the total absence rate in the private sector stands at 3.1 (2.2 due to illness or injury and 0.9 due to other reasons). The total lost work time rate is 1.8 (1.3 due to illness or injury and 0.5 due to other reasons).
8. At 4.1, the accommodation industry is the one with the highest total absence rate within the private sector.
Of that rate, 2.7 is accounted for by illness or injuries and 1.4 by other reasons. The total lost work time rate in the accommodation industry stands at 2.4 (1.5 due to illness or injury and 0.9 due to other reasons).
9. At 1.9, the finance industry is the one with the lowest total absence rate within the private sector.
Of that rate, 1.3 is accounted for by illness or injuries and 0.6 by other reasons. The total lost work time rate in the finance industry stands at 1.1 (0.7 due to illness or injury and 0.4 due to other reasons).
10. At 3.7, the federal government has the highest total absence rate in the public sector.
Of that rate, 2.6 is accounted for by illness or injuries and 1.1 by other reasons. The total lost work time rate in the federal government stands at 2.2 (1.5 due to illness or injury and 0.7 due to other reasons).
11. At 3.3, local governments have the lowest total absence rate in the public sector.
Of that rate, 2.3 is accounted for by illness or injuries and 1.0 by other reasons. The total lost work time rate of local governments stands at 2.0 (1.4 due to illness or injury and 0.6 due to other reasons).
The Cost of Workplace Absenteeism
12. Just five chronic diseases/risk factors cost US employers $36.4 billion a year due to employee absenteeism.
Said chronic diseases/risk factors are diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, physical inactivity, and smoking.
The CDC believes that implementing health promotion programs at workplaces can reach as many as 157 million workers in the United States, thus contributing to a healthier workforce and fewer absenteeism-induced losses.
13. Companies lose over $11.3 billion a year due to time-tracking abuse.
Of these, $373 million are lost due to buddy punching (something that every other employee admits to doing) and $11 billion due to time theft. Out of the 38% of employers in the US that say they punch cards and paper timesheets, 80% admit they need to correct the timesheets they receive.
14. Absenteeism due to depression costs businesses $77 billion a year.
Out of those, businesses in the US lose $51 billion in immediate absenteeism costs and another $26 billion in depression treatment costs. What’s more, stress, anxiety, and depression account for over 50% of all illness-related workplace absences.
15. The annual cost of lost productivity due to absenteeism stands at $24.2 billion among professionals.
The above figure is the highest when observing the annual cost of absenteeism-induced productivity loss across major occupations in the US. The professionals observed in this regard have a 74.8% rate of obesity or one or more chronic conditions and exclude physicians, nurses, and teachers.
Managers and/or executives in the US have a 78.8% rate of obesity or one or more chronic conditions, generating $15.7 billion in absenteeism-induced productivity loss costs a year.
All other occupational groups generate annual costs of lost productivity due to absenteeism below $10 billion.
16. At $0.16 billion, farmers, foresters, and fishers generate the lowest annual cost of lost productivity due to absenteeism.
Interestingly, the rate of obesity or one or more chronic conditions among them is the same as the one among managers and/or executives, i.e. 78.8%. However, farmers, foresters, and fishers generate nearly 99% less in annual costs of lost productivity due to absenteeism.
The only other occupational group generating less than $1 billion in annual costs of absenteeism-induced productivity loss are physicians. The corresponding for them stands at $0.25 billion and, as expected, they also have the lowest rate of obesity or one or more chronic conditions, i.e. 67.9%.
17. The annual incremental absenteeism costs of smoker workers in the US are estimated at $218.5 billion.
In addition to the above expenses, US employers also face estimated annual incremental healthcare costs of $59.4 billion. About a fifth of US workers smoke, spending an additional 2.5 workdays a year due to poor health along with an additional 9 workdays a year lost to smoking breaks.
Workplace Absenteeism Statistics Around the World
Spain ranks second with $1.84 billion, followed by Mexico ($1.68 billion), Australia ($1.56 billion), and India ($1.23 billion) in the top five countries with the highest obesity-related absenteeism costs.
Counties with lower absenteeism costs related to obesity include Saudi Arabia ($0.7 billion), Thailand ($0.4 billion), and South Africa ($0.04 billion).
19. At 5.62, the health sector has the highest absenteeism rate in France.
The latest available reveals that the services sector ranks second with an absenteeism rate of 5.26, followed by the trade and industry/construction sector with 5.06 and 4.26, respectively.
The average absenteeism rate in France across all economic sectors in France stands at 5.1.
20. 40% of Canadians miss between one and six days of work due to depression.
The latest available data points to a further 9% who miss between one and two weeks, 5% who miss two to four weeks, and 8% who miss four weeks or more work due to depression.
Only 38% of the Canadian workforce doesn’t miss any work due to depression.
21. Between 2017 and 2020, South America faced over $1.3 billion in absenteeism-induced lost productivity during peak infection rates.
The corresponding figure for Central America and Mexico stood at over $321 million, and over $142 million for the Caribbean.
22. At 3.2, sickness absence rates in the UK are highest in the caring, leisure, and other service occupations.
The latest available data places elementary occupations second with a sickness absence rate of 2.5, followed by process, plant, and machine operatives (2.4), administrative and secretarial occupations (2.2), and sales and customer service occupations (2.1) round up the top five occupation groups by sickness absence rates in the UK.
- Absenteeism is a real and growing problem in workplaces, but it can be addressed by providing employees with the support and resources they need to stay healthy.
- The best way to prevent absenteeism is to create an environment where employees feel supported, valued, and cared for—and where they have access to the tools they need to stay healthy.
- Employees who are happy at work are more likely to stay productive and engaged, which will help your company achieve its goals.
If you’re like most people, your eyes have probably glazed over a little by now. But don’t worry—we’re not going anywhere! We just want to remind you that there are plenty of statistics out there that show how much absenteeism can cost businesses. And knowing this information can help you make sure your company isn’t one of them.
We hope this article has helped provide some clarity around workplace absenteeism and has given you some new ideas for reducing it in your workplace.
If you have any questions about our content or would like to share some thoughts with us about workplace absenteeism, please reach out! We love hearing from people just like you who are dedicated to making their workplaces better places for everyone involved.
Thanks for reading—and keep being awesome!