Workplace absenteeism costs $28b

Absenteeism in the workplace costs the Australian economy $28 billion in lost wages and productivity each year, with over four-fifths of employers believing that a significant portion of sick leave is not genuine behaviour.

According to a 2012 survey released by absence management company Direct Health Solutions, employers felt that 'non-genuine absence behaviour' accounted for 10-25 per cent of total sick leave.

The telecommunications and utilities industry and the travel, tourism and hospitality industry, in particular, suffered from the highest absentee rates, recording an average of 13 sick days per year each. This was followed by outsourced service providers - such as call centres - recording 11 sick days per year.

Other industries with significant absenteeism included public service (10 days) and banking, finance and insurance (9 days). Conversely, staff in the manufacturing, retail and IT sectors took the fewest sick days at under a week.

Compared with other nations, Australians took 30 per cent more sick leave than employees in the United Kingdom, although national average absence levels fell to just under nine days per worker over the past two years.

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