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Employee absence at unprecedented level during pandemic



The increase in absenteeism in 2020 is almost exclusively the result of an increase in the average duration of absence length (+28.9%), states the IGSS report.  Photo: Shutterstock.

The increase in absenteeism in 2020 is almost exclusively the result of an increase in the average duration of absence length (+28.9%), states the IGSS report.  Photo: Shutterstock.

The covid-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented increase in absence at work rising from 3.88% in 2019 to 4.58% in 2020 according to the general inspectorate of social security (IGSS).

Social security minister Romain Schneider (LSAP) presented the figures at a press conference on 18 November. Absenteeism, meaning the number of days of absence in relation to the number of working days, has seen a steep rise from 3.88% in 2019 to 4.58% in 2020, constituting an increase of 17.8%.

“It is clear from this assessment that the covid-19 pandemic is the main factor behind an 18% increase in the absenteeism rate,” said Schneider.

The IGSS points out that there are many factors that have had an impact, but the main ones are symptoms associated with the coronavirus and measures implemented by the government such as quarantine, reduced working hours or teleworking.

The increase in absenteeism in 2020 is almost exclusively the result of an increase in the average duration of absence length (+28.9%), states the IGSS report. In other words, absentees were fewer but were unavailable for a longer period. This is likely the result of quarantine and isolation measures. The length of absence also varies by sector with the financial sector recording an average of 6.8 days and the transport sector 13 days.

On the other hand, mask wearing, physical distancing and other government introduced measures resulted in a 7.9% drop in the number of people absent.

Data for the first nine months of 2021 shows a high rate of absenteeism (4.22%) compared to pre-pandemic levels but a lower rate compared to pre-vaccine levels. The released numbers for 2021 are not definitive as a 3-month hindsight needs to be implemented. Any corrections to be introduced in the future won’t change the outcome dramatically, the IGSS said.