"Sick Days" Symptoms of Other Problems

October 17, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - While unscheduled absences are running at the same pace as recent years, only a third of unscheduled days off are because of illness, according to a new survey.

Unscheduled absences because of personal needs increased from 20% two years ago to 24% in 2002, while absences due to stress jumped from 5% to 12% over the same period.

More workers are calling in absent because of family issues, stress, and personal needs in what could be a sign of changing attitudes since last year’s terrorist attacks, according to business information publisher CCH Inc., which surveyed personnel officers at 333 US companies.

And while the absence rate is virtually unchanged, the cost to employers has continued to rise sharply.   This year, such absences cost $789 for the average employee over the course of the year, up from $610 in 2000 and $755 last year.