Employers vastly underestimate how much time their employees take off work

Francesca Washtell
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Almost a fifth of employees said they had taken a long-term absence as a result of an illness, accident or injury last year (Source: Getty)

Many employers vastly underestimate the amount of time their employees may need to take off work in long-term absences each year, according to figures released today by Legal & General.

Although 40 per cent of employers estimate their staff will take an average of four to five days off sick each year, almost a fifth of employees said they have been off work for four weeks or more due to an illness, accident or injury over the last 12 months.

More than one in three respondents in the survey of 2,000 employees and 200 managers also said they knew someone who had experienced a long-term absence over the same period.

Read more: How to stop employees pulling a sickie

“Our research shows that long-term absence is a prevalent issue and perhaps happening more often than employers realise,” said Martin Noone, managing director at Legal & General’s workplace health and protection division.

“The costs of paying people to do the work of the long-term absent employee can be high and employers should consider solutions that can help get their staff back to work quickly.”

Read more: Innovative ways to reduce absenteeism

Less than five per cent of employers thought an average member of staff would take no sick days in a year, though 35 per cent of workers said they took no days for illness in a 12-month period. On average, employees estimated needing around 3.4 days off per year.

In May, on-demand hiring platform Catapult said the UK was suffering an “absenteeism crisis” in the workplace, costing the economy around £100bn a year. Catapult estimated businesses lose 6.9 days a year per employee to absences.

In August, City A.M. revealed London Underground staff took over 163,000 sick days in 2015, the highest level in five years.

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