Total days of employee absenteeism as a percentage of total expected workdays during the reporting period.


Absence days / Workdays* 100


For the purposes of this measure absenteeism means absences that are beyond the capacity of the employer to control, including are sick leave, carers leave, compassionate leave, parental (maternity) leave, jury duty, no-shows or other reasons. Leave for these reasons is often characterised as unscheduled but, on occasions, an employee may advise of a need to take leave in advance.

Absence Rate indicates the percentage of work time, expressed as workdays, that the average employee is absent for unavoidable reasons during a period. A result of 3 per cent means that absenteeism represents a total 3 per cent of all workdays. Or, put differently, on an average day, three of every 100 employees are absent for uncontrollable reasons.

Organisations may be interested specifically in absenteeism as a target for intervention for improved costs and productivity.

While absences are a necessary part of operations and many absence types are considered to be important benefits for employees, absences do result in direct costs and productivity losses for the organisation. Direct financial consequences may include such items as overtime wages and temporary worker pay.

Productivity losses can include the time used to find replacements, disruption to the delivery of services, training and onboarding of replacements, and the lost productivity of peers who may step in to cover the absent employee’s duties.

Measuring absence volume through Absence Rate, combined with further analysis of absence types, can help an organisation to identify undesirable absences and create appr opriate policies or programs.

Data Sourcing

Organisations typically source data related to absences from absence tables that are part of timekeeping systems or payroll systems, or exist as separate databases.


Employers may find it useful to analyse Absence Rate across various employee populations to identify areas of concern and targeted interventions, using such dimensions as age, tenure, employment level, pay grade, occupation, job family, performance rating, location and organisational unit. Organisations may also analyse this measure by absence type to understand which absences occur most frequently.


Absence Rate does not directly indicate the costs of absences. It does not measure the average length of absences or the reasons for those absences, without further analysis. Additionally, this measure does not differentiate between absences for uncontrollable illnesses, injuries, etc., versus absences in which employees simply did not feel like attending work.


Absolute targets for Absence Rate are likely to consider a reasonable level of scheduled absences (based on expected utilisation of certain leave types) and a minimal level of unscheduled absences.

Relative to a benchmark group, organisations would typically aim to move results toward the 251h percentile, representing lower levels of unscheduled absences and higher levels of productivity.