Small businesses lose out to absenteeism


26 Oct 2010

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Small businesses in Ireland lose nearly €600m per annum due to absenteeism, a recently published report suggests.

Conducted by the Small Firms Association (SFA), the report shows that small businesses in Ireland lose more than €563m per annum through absenteeism and also shows people working for small companies are less likely to miss work than people who work in larger operations.

“The results show marked differences across sectors and regions, and show that small firms with less than 50 employees are less likely to have workers absent on sick leave than larger firms,” said Avine McNally, acting director of the SFA.

Larger firms have a higher national average of absenteeism

“The national average for absenteeism is 3.6pc (eight working days). For large firms, this rises to 4.6pc (10 working days). For small firms, the average falls to 2.6pc (five working days),” she added.

The survey found that absenteeism translates to cost for small businesses, with sick pay schemes an estimated €563m per annum, based on average earnings of €143 per day.

Back pain or injury and stress were found to be the most commonly cited problems on medical certs while the west/northwest showed the highest rates of absenteeism.

“It is a concern that stress remains one of the high reasons for absenteeism, as aside from the employees’ absence, stress can lead to a less productive workforce, faulty decision making, and ultimately the possibility of legal action being taken against the company for negligence or constructive dismissal,” added McNally.