CBS records the highest absenteeism rate in 17 years, with wide variations

Flu thermometer.
Flu thermometer.

Illness-related absenteeism has reached its highest level since 2003 this year, national statistics office CBS reported, but it is unclear if coronavirus is to blame.

Some 4.4% of workers called in sick in past three months, the CBS said. In the hospitality sector, where absenteeism is normally relatively low, more workers had to take time off because of illness, and absenteeism rose among hairdressers and farm workers as well.

The nature of the illness was not recorded so the CBS cannot not say conclusively if coronavirus played a big role.

By contrast, the education and public sector showed a lower absenteeism rate compared to 2019, an anomaly which is partly due to home working but which the CBS said merits closer examination.

Health and safety sector association Oval said it too has seen an increase the number of workers taking time off through illness.

‘Apart from people sitting at home with coronavirus or in quarantine because a member of the family has been infected, we have also noted an increase in people calling in sick because of stress,’ Oval director Petra van de Goorbergh told broadcaster Nos.

People who are dealing with stress will not go back to work ‘in a few days’ and this may have consequences that will stretch beyond the coronavirus crisis, she said.

‘Employers would do well to stimulate workers to get up and go for a walk a bit more often, and have more moments in which to relax,’ Goorbergh told the broadcaster.

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