Absenteeism rebounds to historical highs despite the lower incidence of covid

Almost a million workers did not go to their post for a single day last year, which represents a total cost of almost 37,000 million

Lucia Palacios

Absenteeism has shot up again in the first months of 2022 "worryingly", despite the fact that covid-19 is not having the same health impact as when it broke out in 2020. Thus, the rate has risen to the all-time high of 7 .5%, even above that of 2020, after it had fallen to 6.6% in 2021, according to the XI Adecco Report on Healthy Company and Absenteeism Management published this Wednesday, which highlights that until In 2017 this level never exceeded 5%.

Extrapolating the percentages from 2021 to the number of employees (16.1 million), it is equivalent to 937,900 workers not going to work throughout the year, one in 16. Or what is the same, more than 1,700 hours of work were lost, which had a total cost for the economy as a whole of almost 37,000 million euros, which is equivalent to 3.1% of GDP.

It should be noted, however, that the concept of absenteeism included in this report includes any absence from work, whether justified as sick leave or maternity and paternity leave, as unjustified, so not all absenteeism can be eliminated, according to Adecco.

In any case, sick leave due to common illness or non-occupational accident worsened in 2021 compared to 2020 in terms of the number of processes, cost and average incidence, according to estimates by the Association of Mutual Insurance Companies for Work Accidents (AMAT). More specifically, the total number of withdrawal processes for the Social Security System increased by 13.99%, which resulted in a total cost of 106,302 million euros, an increase of 16.04%. In addition, the calculation in terms of goods and services that were no longer produced and provided reaches 87,439 million euros, 7.27% of last year's GDP.

And in the first four months of 2022, the number of processes initiated for sick leave increased by more than 46%, almost half a million more cases. For this reason, the cost of this absenteeism due to sick leave for workers protected by the Mutual Associations collaborating with Social Security, without taking into account the opportunity cost, is 4,254.62 million euros, which represents 591.20 million more than in 2021.

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