Sickness presence more costly than sickness absence

More employees reported one day of sickness presence (45%) than those who reported one day of sickness absence (18%) in a one month period, according to a report from The Work Foundation, which was commissioned by Axa PPP Healthcare.

The report, Why do employees come to work when ill? An investigation into sickness presence in the workplace, involved qualitative interviews with 25 Axa PPP employees and an online survey of 510 employees.

Among the key findings were that sickness presence is significantly related to performance and that higher levels of sickness presence are associated with lower manager assessed performance, reduced psychological wellbeing and higher levels of sickness absence.

Additionally, three factors were linked with higher levels of sickness presence: personal financial difficulties, work-related stress and perceived workplace pressure to attend work when unwell.

Dr Katherine Ashby, lead author of the report, said that her research proved that sickness presence is more costly than sickness absence.

She said: “Like sickness absence, sickness presence can be a symptom of underlying issues so it’s important to identify and tackle these underlying issues in sickness presence in the same way it is sickness absence.

“We think employers may be at risk of underestimating employee health and missing signals by focusing on sickness absence alone.”

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