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


Unscheduled absence days / Workdays * 100


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

Unscheduled absences may occur due to illnesses, carers leave, compassionate leave, parental leave, no-shows, jury duty or other reasons. Organisations may be interested specifically in unscheduled absences 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 Unscheduled Absence Rate, combined with further analysis of absence types, can help an organisation to identify undesirable absences and create appropriate policies or programs.

Data Sourcing

Organisations typically source data related to absences 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 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.


Unscheduled 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 Unscheduled 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 target between the 251 percentile and the median, representing lower levels of unscheduled absences. Relative targets are likely to be more useful for Unscheduled Absence Rate than for this measure, due to variances in leave policies across organisations.