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Data quality, concepts and methodology: How absences are measured

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This publication uses three measures of absence.

The incidence of absence is the percentage of full-time employees reporting some absence in the reference week. In calculating incidence, the length of work absence-whether an hour, a day, or a full week-is irrelevant.

The inactivity rate shows hours lost as a proportion of the usual weekly hours of all full-time employees. It takes into account both the incidence and length of absence.

Days lost per worker are calculated by multiplying the inactivity rate by the estimated number of working days in the year (250).

The estimated number of working days in the year (250) is in line with other research in the field. This number assumes that the typical full-time employee works a 5-day week (the 1995 Survey of Work Arrangements showed that 75% of full-timers worked a 5-day week) and is entitled to all statutory holidays (around 10 days a year). Thus, the potential annual labour supply of a typical worker would be 52 weeks multiplied by 5, less 10 statutory holidays, or 250 days. This allows the days lost per worker in a year to be calculated.

Varying the number of working days would slightly alter the number of person-days lost in the year, but not the thrust of the findings as they relate to different industries, demographic groups, and so forth.

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