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Sick days cost €490 million last year but which area had the highest rate of absence?

Back pain, anxiety and depression were the biggest contributors to absenteeism in 2014.

ABSENTEEISM IS COSTING small businesses over €490 million a year according to the Small Firms Association Absenteeism Report for 2014. 

It found that 4,052,222 days were lost last year and that back pain, anxiety and depression were the biggest contributors.

Geographically, absence is highest in the west at 3.38% – whereas the midwest has the lowest rate at 1.75%. The report gave this breakdown:

  • Midwest – 1.75
  • Kildare – 1.89
  • Wicklow – 1.99
  • Midlands 2.08
  • Southeast 2.11
  • Dublin 2.24
  • Cork 2.27
  • Northwest 2.86
  • Northeast 2.93
  • West 3.38 

It also looked at the most commonly cited reasons for absence on medical certs:


SFA Executive Alan Sherlock said, “Employers should ensure that they are fulfilling their duty of care to their employees by including manual handling and mental health when conducting risk assessments as part of their review of their health & safety statements.”

The bad news

While the direct cost to small business with sick pay schemes is over €490 million, Sherlock said the overall cost could actually be close to €1 billion.

“When you include additional direct costs, such as replacing staff, paying overtime and medical referrals, and indirect costs, such as loss of productivity and the time spent managing absence, the overall cost is close to €1 billion.”

The good news 

The report did show that overall,  absenteeism has been steadily declining over the past decade.

It also indicated a lower level of absenteeism in smaller business when compared to larger enterprises.


“For large businesses the average absenteeism rate is 2.34% or 5.4 days where as in businesses with less than 50 employees the rate is 2.06% or 4.7 days.”

Read: Businesses beware: An invoice scam is defrauding Irish companies>

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