22/08/2022 0 By indiafreenotes

Absenteeism is a habitual pattern of absence from a duty or obligation without good reason. Generally, absenteeism is unplanned absences. Absenteeism has been viewed as an indicator of poor individual performance, as well as a breach of an implicit contract between employee and employer. It is seen as a management problem, and framed in economic or quasi-economic terms. More recent scholarship seeks to understand absenteeism as an indicator of psychological, medical, or social adjustment to work.


Absenteeism is a habitual pattern correlated with emotional labor and personal reasoning, but there are resolutions to finding ways to alleviate the cause. Kelley, et al. (2016) says stress accounts for twelve percent of absenteeism in the workplace a year, which is a matter in which the company needs to stay in communication with the employee and work towards a solution. A great example of finding progress is forming an employee assistantship program (EAP), which is “a strategy to help workers deal with issues outside of work that employees bring to the workplace” (Quinley, 2003). This not only involves stress, but other mental health factors that employees deem worthy of attention.

Planned vs Unplanned

Planned absences from work include scheduled time off, retirement, and sabbaticals. These absences cause little to no disruption to work spaces because of the time given to work around the absence.

Unplanned absence from work is defined as leave that is not planned or predictable. It includes sick time off, injured time off, special circumstances, and absence without permission. Unplanned absences indicate an important factor of the health of the workplace, including employee satisfaction and commitment.


High absenteeism in the workplace may be indicative of poor morale, but absences can also be caused by workplace hazards or sick building syndrome. Measurements such as the Bradford factor, a measurement tool to analyze absenteeism which believes short, unplanned absences effect the work group more than long term absences, do not distinguish between absence for genuine illness reasons and absence for non-illness related reasons.

Work forces often excuse absenteeism caused by medical reasons if the employee provides supporting documentation from their medical practitioner. In Poland, if employees themselves, or anyone under their care including children and elders, falls ill, sick leave can be applied.

The psychological model that discusses this is the “withdrawal model”, which assumes that absenteeism represents individual withdrawal from dissatisfying working conditions. This finds empirical support in a negative association between absence and job satisfaction, in particular, the satisfaction with the work itself. Factors attributed to absence from work can include stress, family related concerns, work culture, the employees’ ability to do the job, and supervisor–subordinate relationship.

Causes of Employee Absenteeism:

(i) Unhealthy Working Conditions:

If working conditions are not good then workers frequently absent themselves from work. Heat, moisture, noise, bad lighting, dust, over-crowding affect workers’ health causing them to remain absent for longer periods.

(ii) Maladjustment at Work Place:

Workers, sometimes, do not adjust to the situation prevailing at work place. Workers coming from rural to urban areas do not adjust at those places. The congestion, insanitation, fast life at urban areas is not to the liking of village folk. They frequently go back to villages after absenting from work.

(iii) Social and Religious Ceremonies:

Social and religious ceremonies are a major cause for absenteeism. These functions divert the attention of workers and they spend too much time on these activities. Some studies have shown that rate of absenteeism has been higher during festival periods as compared to other periods.

(iv) Industrial Fatigue:

Fatigue is also an important cause of absenteeism. To earn more wages, workers may do overtime or may work at a higher speed under incentive plans and start feeling tired for the next day. Low wage rates also compel them to do some part time work after working hours. They may not be able to face additional burden and thus fall ill leading to long absenteeism.

(v) Alcoholism:

The habit of alcoholism is very common among workers. They want to forget their domestic worries by drinking alcohol. Drinking becomes their habit and its hangover on the next day compels them to absent from work. Workers indulge in more drinking after getting their wages and more absenteeism is reported in these days.

(vi) Inadequate Welfare Facilities:

Inadequate welfare facilities also lead to absenteeism. There may be inadequate facilities for drinking water, sanitation, canteen, rest rooms, crèches etc. Workers feel inconvenience at work. They go back to their homes for having some rest.

(vii) Inadequate Leave Facilities:

The workers do not get proper facilities for attending to family work. Since they are entitled for limited number of leaves, they do not go to work whenever they have to attend to family needs.

(viii) Age:

Absenteeism is higher among teenagers and old persons. Teenagers are casual in their work and old people exhaust after continuous work.

(ix) Absence of Housing and Transport Facilities:

Housing is a major problem in cities and in the absence of company houses, workers either stay alone or at far off places. Thus, quite often they have to travel long distances to reach of the work place. Without company transport, they are often unable to reach in time. Thus, housing and transport problems result in absenteeism.

(x) Management Systems:

When the managers treat workers as mere tools, the rate of absenteeism is likely to be high. In the absence of proper management control, workloads, shift arrangements and personnel policies may be unbalanced causing absenteeism.

(xi) Rural Ties:

Most of the factory workers come from villages. They leave behind their families and relatives while coming to cities for employment. They go to their villages often for festivals, religious and social ceremonies, sowing and harvesting of crops etc. This leads to high rate of absenteeism.

(xii) Indebtedness:

Most of the workers suffer from a high degree of indebtedness. Some workers absent themselves or even resign to escape the usurious money lenders. As a result, absenteeism is high.

Measures to Control Employee Absenteeism:

(i) Proper Working Conditions:

Bad working conditions are the main cause of absenteeism. The workers feel fatigued after a short period of work if there is insanitation, noise, dust, dampness, etc. There should be proper facilities at work. There should be a provision of drinking water, canteen, rest places, lavatories etc. so that workers do not feel tired at work place.

(ii) Proper Selection Procedure:

Absenteeism may also result if there is no proper recruitment and selection. When the workers are not well suited for the jobs then they will try to absent themselves. There should be aptitude training, intelligence tests for finding out the suitability of persons for the jobs they are being selected. When the job is suitable for the worker then he will enjoy work on it and will not think of absenting himself.

(iii) Reasonable Wage Rates:

The wage rates should be fixed by taking into account the requirements of workers. The wages should be sufficient to enable workers in maintaining reasonable standards of living.

(iv) Proper Grievance Settlement:

There should be a proper grievance settlement machinery for the workers. Sometimes there is a feeling among workers that their problems are not properly looked into and out of frustration they start absenting from duty. When there is a grievance settling machinery then the causes of discontentment can be removed at the earliest.

(v) Prevention of Accidents:

There should be proper safety measures in the factory. There is a direct relationship between absenteeism and accidents. The workers should be educated for properly using machines and precautions to be taken on the occurrence of some accident. When workers are not fearful of accidents then they will not skip their duties.

(vi) Liberal Grant of Leave:

The strict attitude of management in granting leave may also lead to absenteeism. When there are pressing needs for leave and management is not responsive then workers will remain absent. They may also try to get E.S.I. (Medical) leaves or half pay where they are entitled upto 56 days leave in a year. Management should be liberal in granting leave when workers have genuine problems.

(vii) Cordial Relations at Work:

The strained relations between supervisors and workers may also prompt absenteeism. The supervisors should have co-operative attitude towards workers. They should motivate workers for improving their performance and should not indulge in frequent criticism.

(viii) Maintaining Discipline:

There should be well defined rules and regulations for work. The employees should not be allowed to violate various regulations.

There should be well laid leave rules and these should be properly followed. If some workers are in the habit of coming late or frequently absent from duty then strict action should be taken against them. In the absence of such action other employees may be encouraged to violate such rules and regulations.

(ix) Housing and Transport Facilities:

Provision of housing accommodation, preferably near the factory and bus facility will ensure regular attendance of workers.

(x) Incentives:

Special bonus, cash prizes and preference in promotion to regular employees encourage workers to be regular in their attendance.

(xi) Effective Supervision:

Supervisors can considerably reduce absenteeism by earning confidence and commitment of workers. They should show sincere interest in workers and treat them as human beings.

(xii) Proper Records:

Detailed and up to date records of absenteeism should be maintained. Absenteeism above the predetermined level should be carefully analysed age wise, sex wise, month wise and other basis. Suitable corrective actions should be taken whenever necessary.

Effects of Employee Absenteeism:

  • Overall production declines.
  • Regular flow of work in the factory/office is disturbed.
  • Production schedules are delayed, so the orders cannot be executed in time.
  • Overtime bill increases considerably.
  • Quality of work suffers because the casual workers employed to maintain work schedules are not properly trained.
  • Work pressure on available and present employees increases.
  • Incidence of industrial accidents increase.
  • Workers lose wages for unauthorised absence from duty.
  • Reduction in earnings increases indebtedness of workers which is further a cause of absenteeism.
  • Repairs and maintenance costs increase due to frequent breakdown of machinery by inexperienced workers.
  • Workers who are habitually absent may be removed from service causing hardships to them and their family members.