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Work Absence Rates



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  1. Estimates from the Labour Force Survey indicate that both the incidence and the number of days lost for personal reasons (illness or disability, and personal or family responsibilities) have shown a rising trend since 1997. Several factors have contributed: notably, an aging workforce; the growing share of women in the workforce, especially mothers with young children; high worker stress; and more generous sick- and family-related leave benefits.
  2. In an average week in 1997, excluding women on maternity leave, about 5.5% (484,000) of all full-time employees holding one job were absent from work for all or part of the week for personal reasons. By 2007, the figure had risen to 8.8% (969,000). Total work time missed also rose steadily, from 3.0% of the scheduled week in 1997 to 4.1% in 2007. Extrapolated over the full year, work time lost for personal reasons increased from the equivalent of 7.4 days per worker in 1997 to 10.2 days in 2007.
  3. Full-time employees in the public sector (more likely unionized or female) lost more work time in 2007 for personal reasons (about 12.8 days on average) than their private-sector counterparts (9.5 days).