How to calculate a sickness absence percentage for employees

Published on January 23, 2020 by Camille Brouard
How to calculate sickness absence percentage

How to calculate a sickness absence percentage for employees

Calculating sickness absence percentages can be highly beneficial for identifying potential issues that may be affecting your organisation’s productivity, such as absenteeism or an underlying health and safety issue that is causing more time off work. It's also fairly easy to calculate, though the introduction of a software solution helps automate the process and save time.

How to calculate sickness absence percentages

To measure the amount of time lost to sickness absence within the business, complete the following steps:

  1. Add up the total number of days that should have been worked (or hours for variable hours employees).
  2. Work out the total number of days/hours lost to sickness absence.
  3. Divide the number of days/hours lost by the number that should have been worked.
  4. Multiply this result by 100 to calculate a sickness absence percentage.

This can easily be done for an individual employee, for a team or department, or across the whole business. You may also want to do this for other forms of absence (including parental leave, compassionate leave etc.) to see how absence is affecting the organisation overall.

The Bradford Factor

Many businesses use the Bradford Factor to measure sickness absence rates across the organisation. This formula was developed in the 1980s to provide a benchmark measurement for absence, based on the idea that frequent short absences are more disruptive to a business than longer, less frequent absences. Read our guide to the Bradford Factor to find out more.

How does your rate compare to the UK average?

When it comes to assessing your organisation’s average sickness absence rate, it’s useful to compare it against the UK average for a better idea of how absence is affecting you – as a certain amount of absence is inevitable, after all!

According to the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS), in 2018 there was an average sickness absence rate of 2% for workers within the UK labour market. This equated to an average of 4.4 days lost per worker.

Of course, the rate of sickness absence varies by factors such as sector, industry and business size. For instance, the public sector had a higher rate of sickness absence than the private sector (2.7% versus 1.8%) and larger work forces tended to have a higher sickness absence rate (2.5% for 500+ employees compared to 1.7% for businesses with less than 25 employees).

Getting the whole picture on sickness in the workplace

Calculate sickness absence percentage

Measuring time lost to sickness is a useful starting point, but identifying the reasons for sickness absence within your organisation is ultimately more helpful when it comes to assessing how to improve sickness absence rates.

The ONS also report on common reasons given for sickness absence, which for 2018 most prominently included minor illnesses (27.2%), musculoskeletal problems (19.7%), and mental health conditions (12.4%). Assessing the most common reasons for illness within your organisation can help you put strategies in place to reduce absence.

Also, absence isn’t the only issue to look out for when it comes to sickness – there are other forms of response to sickness that can be just as problematic for the business over time. Read our guides on presenteeism and leaveism in the workplace to find out more.

Calculating sickness absence rates with HR software

The easiest way to calculate and monitor sickness absence rates for staff is with a HR software platform. As a highly secure absence management system, HR software helps businesses ensure sickness absence is recorded accurately and follow-up processes are always followed. The software can also provide in-depth reports on sickness and other forms of absence to help you identify patterns.

To find out more about how a HR software system can help your business with absence management, get in touch with myhrtoolkit to arrange a demo and get a free trial.

Related articles

How to calculate holiday entitlement for employees

How to address lost productivity due to employee sickness absence

Picture of Camille Brouard

Written by Camille Brouard

Camille is a Marketing Executive for myhrtoolkit whose writing interests include HR technology, workplace culture, leave management, diversity, and mental health at work.

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