NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Businesses Face Higher Absentee Costs

October 29, 2002

Some employees are rebelling against cuts in official time off by taking unscheduled absences from work, human resources experts report. Such practices are costing companies serious money.

  • In 2002, the cost per employee for unscheduled absences reached an annual average of $789 -- an all-time high and an increase of nearly 30 percent since 2000.
  • According to a survey by CCH, a provider of human-resource and employment-law information, employees during the past year were more likely to take unscheduled sick time to meet personal and family needs than for actual illnesses.
  • Unscheduled absences for personal needs rose 21 percent in 2002.
  • Twenty percent of employees acknowledge that they try to take more vacation days than they are entitled to, according to Fodor's Travel Publications.

At the same time, the amount of paid time off is dwindling. The proportion of companies with paid vacation has fallen to 91 percent this year from 95 percent in 1999, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. Companies offering paid personal days -- aside from sick and vacation days -- have dropped to 46 percent from 57 percent.

Experts theorize that employees resent their employers playing around with their time-off benefits, and are fighting back.

Source: Stephanie Armour, "Faced With Less Time Off, Workers Take More," USA Today, October 29, 2002.


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