No matter how you look at it, sick employees always constitute a loss for your company. Of course, employees can fall ill once in a while. That’s no reason to dismiss them. But some employees are ill or absent more often and for longer periods of time than others. And in the long run, they can be problematic for your business. We prefer talking about absence rather than sick absence, because employees are not always absent due to illness.

Four types of absence

As there are several degrees of absence, it is split up into four different categories.

•    White absence: in this case, the employee has a valid reason to be absent. Illness with a doctor’s certificate, death of a family member, pregnancy… are all part of this category.

•    Grey absence: the employee was ill indeed, but is absent longer than is necessary. Employees that temporarily can’t perform their role, but can carry out other tasks, are also part of this category. For these employees, you can look for a temporary solution.

•    Black or fraudulent absence: The employee has no valid reason to be absent, yet does not show up during the working hours.

•    Pink absence: the employee is at work, but does not perform optimally. The employee could be ill, but refuses to stay at home. By doing so, he or she risks infecting other colleagues. It is also possible that the employee is present, but does not perform properly or spends his or her time doing other things. Please visit our page about employee time schedules.

The figures

Absenteeism is and will continue to be an issue in Belgium. According to research performed by SD Worx in 2016, just over 6 out of 10 employees were absent due to illness for at least one day, which equals to 62.65% of the working population. Long-term absence is determined at 2.88% for 2016.

When does absence increase more? When we get older…
Employees over 50 years old are most frequently absent (5.32%), followed by the 30 to 50 year olds, with 5.32%. Of the employees under the age of 30 on the contrary, only 3.98% were absent in 2016.

White-collar workers are absent the most and they also take the most time credit. Numbers from the RVA indicate that 3.2% of white-collar workers took time credit in 2016, compared to only 1.6% of labourers.

Those numbers are pretty high, right? Wait until you find out what this means for your company in terms of costs…

The costs

We don’t always realize it, but the costs resulting from absent employees often significantly affect a company’s operating results.

Research from SD Worx revealed that one hour of sick absence costs more than €19 on average. And this only concerns the wage costs. Costs related to loss of quality, replacement etc. haven’t been taken into account yet.

Would you like to know how much your company is losing due to ill employees? Mensura has developed a tool to calculate how much money your company is losing due to absence. (Edit 17/02/2022, link removed; tool is no longer available)
Would you like to prevent these costs? Allow detective agency Bayo to map your company’s sick absence.

Can your reward employees that aren’t ill?

Lately, there has been a lot of debate about employers rewarding personnel that haven’t been ill. Is it a good idea?

Some companies raffle traveller’s cheques to employees who haven’t been ill for two months. According to experts, it only works temporarily and the effects wear off fast. It also constitutes a breach of the law on anti-discrimination.

Ill people show up after all and infect their colleagues. Those who already won their prize will be absent again faster…
As you can see, rewarding people who haven’t been absent for longer periods of time isn’t always a good idea. As a company, you can often take other measures that are much more effective.
How can you counteract sick absence?

Are you looking for ways to decrease absence in your company? You can always rely upon our services or start by reading our article: “8 ways to deal with sick absence“.