Sick Days Costing Canadian Economy $16.6 billion: Report

By Omid Ghoreishi, Epoch Times
September 25, 2013 8:02 pm Last Updated: September 25, 2013 9:14 pm

Sick days cost the Canadian economy an estimated $16.6 billion in 2012, the Conference Board of Canada said in a new report. 

Citing data from Statistics Canada, the Conference Board of Canada (CBoC) said the average absenteeism rate for full-time employees in Canada was 9.3 days in 2011, close to two full work weeks. 

This rate is relatively high when compared to other countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, where the average absenteeism rates for each employee are between five and seven days annually. 

The CBoC calculated the annual toll that absenteeism takes on the Canadian economy by surveying different organizations that estimated the direct cost to be an average of 2.4 percent of their gross annual payroll. This amounted to $16.6 billion in 2012.

The CBoC noted that the cited economic loss does not include any indirect costs such as replacement costs for absent workers, administrative expenses, or negative impact on customers or other employees. 

Absenteeism rates in 2011 were higher in the public sector, at 12.9 days, compared to the private sector at 8.2 days. The rate is also higher among unionized workers, with unionized workers taking an average of 13.2 sick days per year compared to 7.5 days for non-unionized workers. 

By sector, the highest absenteeism rates were seen in the health care and social assistance sector, followed by government and public administration. 

Although compared to prior years more organizations are tracking employee absences, the number of organizations that keep proper records is still less than 50 percent. 

“Absenteeism is more than a human resources issue. Unless organizations start proactively addressing absenteeism, this trend will most likely accelerate as the workforce ages,” study author Nicole Stewart said in a news release. 

“Organizations can begin to address the issues through better tracking of the number of absences and reasons for absenteeism,” Stewart said. 

According to a survey by Angus Reid commissioned by Kronos Canada earlier this year, over half of Canadians have used sick days to avoid going to work when they actually weren’t sick.