Absenteeism hurting small business - Isme


Absenteeism is costing small businesses in Ireland up to €1 billion annually, it was claimed today.

The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (Isme) said that a survey of its members showed that 6.6 million days are lost due to employees' non-attendance at work.

It estimates that the direct cost of absenteeism is €1billion based on an average cost of €145 per employee per day lost on wages, benefits and replacement costs.

The organisation said that substantial indirect costs also arise through disruption, late deliveries, dissatisfied customers, lost productivity and sales.

The survey of 750 companies, employing in excess of 30,000, highlights that employees are absent for an additional 6 days, on average, on top of holidays and other authorised absences. Companies indicated that, in their opinion, 83 per cent, or 5 days of unauthorised time taken is due to feigned illness or malingering.

Isme claims that unauthorised absences are being facilitated by GPs. The organisation's chief executive Mark Fielding questioned the ease with which employees can obtain doctors' notes and called on medical professionals to be more circumspect in their deliberations and to refuse to give a 'sick cert' if they don't believe an individual is unwell.

"It is also quite obvious, based on the survey results, that unauthorised absences are being tacitly condoned by the medical profession, too busy to investigate and advise and too fearful of our litigious environment. It has now become completely unrealistic for a business to expect a full compliment of staff on any given day," said Mr Fielding.

However, Andrew McGuinness of the Worker's Party today accused Isme of 'making up' the survey saying it had no scientific basis whatsoever.

"This is an entirely make-believe report produced by Isme as part of an agenda to attack workers and make them pay for the economic crisis," he said.

"If Isme want to look at absenteeism they should look closer to home and they will realise that many of their members are either off playing golf or at their holiday villas in Marbella or the Algarve while workers try and hold their businesses together for them."