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Thursday, 25 April, 2002, 06:11 GMT 07:11 UK
Sick leave costs UK firms 12bn
Workers brave the rush hour to get to work
The cost of workers' sick days is rising
Workers taking time off for illness - real or feigned - cost UK firms just under 12bn last year, according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

The cost of sick leave rose by just over 1bn in 2001, even though the number of sick days was the lowest since the employer's organisation began keeping records in 1987.

Workers took a total of 176 million days off for illness, which is 16 million fewer days than in 2000.

But employers paid out more to cover for absent staff. Sick leave cost UK businesses 11.8bn in 2001 compared to 10.7bn the previous year.

Extra spending

"Concerns about job security and better absence management led to a fall in days lost, but firms say costs increased," said Susan Anderson, CBI director of human resources policy.

"Firms are under greater competitive pressures and, with less slack in their operations, providing cover is likely to mean extra spending on overtime or temps."

The average British worker had seven days off work last year, according to a CBI survey of 668 firms.

Absenteeism rates have fallen steadily since the early 1990s, shrinking by two days a year every year for the last decade.

Public sector workers took the most days off sick - 10 - while manual workers took an average of nine days last year, compared to five and a half for white collar staff.

Employers believed most absence was for genuine reasons such as sickness, although some workers took time off because of family responsibilities, the CBI said.

See also:

13 Nov 01 | Health
Long weekend 'sickies' uncommon
03 Jan 01 | e-cyclopedia
Duvet days: A snooze button for life
19 Oct 00 | Scotland
Firm targets 'cyber skivers'
28 Jun 01 | UK
The art of the 'sickie'
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