Four in five businesses which record employee absence say this has become harder to measure since the onset of COVID-19. 

According to new research by GRiD, the industry body for the group risk protection sector, COVID-19 has made it more difficult for businesses to record sickness absence.

The data showed that although over four in five businesses (85 per cent) record sickness absence data, under two-thirds (63 per cent) actually measure the impact this has on their company.

When asked what the preferred method was for recording the impact of staff absence, almost half of businesses (44 per cent) stated recording the number of lost hours or days was their go-to choice.

Following this, two-fifths (40 per cent) calculated the cost of sick pay provision – e.g. Statutory Sick Pay and salary costs to understand how this is affecting their firm.

Other practices included analysing the cost of lost productivity (36 per cent), analysing direct costs such as for temporary staff and agency fees (33 per cent), and indirect costs – such as colleagues covering work, learning time, management time (33 per cent).

The body states that being able to record the impact of sickness absence is critical to companies as it allows HR to put forward the case for employee benefits that support both the individual and the company.

This comes as recent research found that sickness absence falls to its lowest rate in 15 years – a statistic which has largely been attributed to furlough, homeworking and shielding.

Over the last year, the sickness absence rate dropped to just 2.2 per cent – down by 0.5 per cent compared to the year before.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, said:

The options, preferences, and levels of sophistication in recording absences will always vary from business to business. For example, it’s much easier to record lost productivity in a production line than it is in a service-based industry.

However, it’s absolutely vital for allemployers to record and analyse their absence data because it enables the employer to trigger a response for employees, such as early intervention support. We know that the longer an individual is off work, the more difficult it can be for them to return which can be hugely disruptive to the employer and their business.

*The research was undertaken by Opinium during January 2021 among 505 HR decision makers at UK businesses.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.