What are some ways we can measure absenteeism in our workplace?

Ai Group research in 2015 found that one out of five businesses do not have a system of measuring and reporting their employee absence

Measurement of absence is fundamental to identifying problems, developing solutions and monitoring the success of absence minimisation programs.

Measuring attendance in the workplace allows organisations to identify:

  • how much working time has been lost;
  • the length of illness/injury-related absences;
  • the types of absence (for example, carer's leave or non-illness/injury related absences)
  • where absence occurs the most;
  • absences that are accompanied by a medical certificate or other evidence;
  • how often individual employees are absent; and
  • whether there is a pattern of absence, for example where a worker regularly calls in sick on a Monday or Friday.

The information collected can be used to flag trigger points or the need to investigate attendance patterns further. This information can allow an organisation to take appropriate action to address and improve the situation.

It can also help to identify and deal with different types of absence appropriately. For example, the management of an employee on long-term sick leave would be different to that of one who has a drug or alcohol problem, and different again to an employee who regularly calls in sick on Fridays.

Finally,by calculating an absenteeism rate (for example, as apercentage or days of lost time) an organisation knowsexactly how much personal leave isbeing taken by their employees and allows them to also being to properly benchmark their results.

Different methods of measuring absence and attendance

Once an organisation has an accurate recording system in place to ensure all absences are tracked, the data can be used to calculate absenteeism. This rate can then assist in calculating the cost of absenteeism to the organisation and to measure the value of any programs or workplace changes that are introduced.

Some of the ways to calculate an absenteeism rate and measures of attendance are described below:

Measures of absence

Annual absenttiesm rate (%)

A common method of measuring absenteeism is as a percentage of time lost:

For the purposes of the above formula an organisation may define the variable as:

Unscheduled absence

  • Sick leave with pay
  • Sick leave without pay
  • Carers leave with pay
  • Carers leave without pay
  • Unexcused absences
  • Failure to attend scheduled overtime work

Total work days rostered

This is the result of multiplying the number of employees in the workforce by the number of days they are rostered to work per year. For example, 100 full-time employees each working 230 days per year would be a total of 23,000 work days rostered.

On average a full-time employee will work around 230 days each year after taking into consideration four weeks annual leave and public holidays. An organisation, however,may wish to work out an absenteeism rate for a different period and therefore use another 'Total work days rostered' figure.

Lost time rate

Another common way to measure absenteeism is by using the lost time rate – that is the average number of days lost per full-time employee (FTE):

Data can be broken down further, for example, by separating absences for family related reasons from those that are unauthorised or unexplained.The rate, pattern and distribution of lost time from unscheduled absences can give an insight into the possible causes ofabsenteeism.

Measureof attendance

This formula can provide a different perspective by measuringattendance as a fraction of absolute available attendance:

Measures of absence frequency

This formula measures the number of absences, regardless of their duration, over a particular period (usually a year). The result for this approach should approximate the total days lost when multiplied by the average duration of each absence.

Further information

Our workplace advisers are standing by and ready to answer questions from our members. For further advice or assistance on this topic, or any workplace relations matter, please call the Ai Group Workplace Advice Line on 1300 55 66 77.

Clinton Fraser

Clinton is the Publications Manager at Ai Group. He is responsible for a number of key services including Annotated Modern Awards, Workplace Relations Handbooks and the management of Ai Group’s HR and Health & Safety Resource Centres. Clinton has a Masters in Employment Relations and previously held advisory roles with the Workplace Authority and Fair Work Ombudsman.