Absence management could address gapThe gap between public and private sector employee absence has widened, new research has found.

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) Absence Management Survey, the gap has increased from 2.6 days per employee a year to 3.3 days.

Public sector absence remains high and averages at 9.7 days a year – a fall from the previous year – compared to the private sector, which saw a decline from 7.2 days to 6.4 days.

Absence management could become an increasing priority of UK organisations, however, after the survey noted that workplace absence costs the economy approximately £17.3 billion a year.

Fears about job security could be one reason why levels of general absence have declined, after the CIPD research found that more than half of respondent organisations have made redundancies over the last 12 months.

The Trades Union Congress predicted that UK job losses will continue until autumn 2010.

"One potential consequence of employee fears over job security is that some may feel under pressure to come into work when they are not well," said Ben Willmott, senior public policy adviser at the CIPD.