Average number of unscheduled absence days per FTE employees during the reporting period.


Unscheduled absence days / Average FTE employee


Unscheduled Absence Days per Employee indicates the average number of days of absences per FTE during the period. A result of 1.5 means that, on average, each FTE employee missed one and a half days of work during the period for unavoidable reasons. This measure is an alternative measure of absence volume to Absence Rate, providing a perspective by employee rather than by days worked.

For the purposes of this measure unscheduled absence means absences that are beyond the capacity of the employer to control, including 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.

In some positions, such absences may cause very little disruption. However, in other positions, absenteeism may drive extensive direct costs and productivity losses for the organisation. Direct financial consequences may include such costs 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.

Unscheduled Absence Days per Employee can thus indicate, directly or indirectly, the level of workplace disruption and organisational cost associated with some absences.

Some absences may also signal issues with workforce health and safety, leave policy compliance, labour relations, and employee engagement and morale. Additionally, as absenteeism can also negatively impact overall employee morale and commitment to the organisation, Unscheduled Absence Days per Employee might serve as a leading indicator of morale and turnover concerns.

An alternative is to measure the percentage of FTE employees by the number of days taken, e.g. less than one week, one to two weeks, three to four weeks, etc. This analysis will inform organisations on concentrations of absenteeism among staff.

Data Sourcing

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


Employers may find it useful to analyse Unscheduled Absence Days per Employee 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 unscheduled absences occur most frequently.


Unscheduled Absence Days per Employee does not directly indicate the costs of absenteeism. It does not measure the average length of an absence occurrence or the reasons for those absences, without further analysis.

Additionally, the core formula for this measure does not differentiate between absences for uncontrollable illnesses, injuries, etc., versus absences in which employees simply did not feel like attending work.


Employers are likely to set absolute targets for this measure near zero, though zero is not a realistic target for Unscheduled Absence Days per Employee.

Despite an organisation’s best efforts to reduce unscheduled absences, sick leave and some other leave types will never be eliminated. Certainly, health and safety efforts may aim to improve employees’ health and minimise sick time, and employers should aim to minimise or eliminate no-shows and false illnesses.

However, targets should be set based on a realistic expectation of such absences.

Relative to a benchmark group, organisations would typically aim to move results toward the 25th percentile, representing lower levels of unscheduled absences and higher levels of productivity, all else being equal.