Unscheduled Absenteeism Reaches Seven-Year High

October 27, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A recent survey conducted for CCH found unscheduled absenteeism at US companies reached the highest level since 1999 in 2006.

The Associated Press reports that the survey of 326 human resources executives across the US, conducted by Harris Interactive, revealed an unscheduled absenteeism rate of 2.5%, up from 2.3% last year, and the highest since the 2.7% rate recorded in 1999.

Employees are not just calling in sick. While survey respondents said 35% of unscheduled absences were due to personal illness, 24% were due to family issues and 18% were attributed to employee personal needs, according to the AP. Respondents said 12% of unscheduled days off were due to stress, and 11% were taken because the employee felt he or she deserved the day off (entitlement mentality).

CCH said absenteeism costs some large employers an estimated $850,000 per year in direct payroll costs and more when factoring in lost productivity, morale and temporary labor costs, the news report said.

The survey also found that the use of paid time off or PTO plans, in which employees are given a bank of days to use for whatever reason, are seen by those surveyed as the most effective way for companies to reduce unscheduled absences. While PTO plans once enjoyed increasing popularity, a recent survey from the Alexander Hamilton Institute found their uptake has stabilized (See Despite Advantages, Use of PTO Programs not Growing ).