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"Absence" redirects here. For other uses, see Absence (disambiguation).

Absenteeism is a habitual pattern of absence from a duty or obligation. Traditionally, 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 was 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.[1]


"So You're not coming in Tomorrow Bud"

High absenteeism in the workplace may be indicative of poor morale, but absences can also be caused by workplace hazards or sick building syndrome. Many employers use statistics such as the Bradford factor that do not distinguish between genuine illness and absence for inappropriate reasons. In 2013 in the UK the CIPD estimated that the average worker had 7.6 sick days per year[2] and that absenteeism cost employers £595 per employee per annum.[3]

As a result, many employees feel obliged to come to work while ill, and transmit communicable diseases to their co-workers. This leads to even greater absenteeism and reduced productivity among other workers who try to work while ill. Work forces often excuse absenteeism caused by medical reasons if the employee provides supporting documentation from their medical practitioner. Sometimes, people choose not to show up for work and do not call in advance, which businesses may find to be unprofessional and inconsiderate. This is called a "no call, no show". According to Nelson & Quick (2008) people who are dissatisfied with their jobs are absent more frequently. They went on to say that the type of dissatisfaction that most often leads employees to miss work is dissatisfaction with the work itself.

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, especially satisfaction with the work itself.[1]

Medical-based understanding of absenteeism find support in research that links absenteeism with smoking, problem drinking, low back pain, and migraines.[4] Absence ascribed to medical causes is often still, at least in part, voluntary. Research shows that over one trillion dollars is lost annually due to productivity shortages as a result of medical-related absenteeism, and that increased focus on preventative wellness could reduce these costs.[5] The line between psychological and medical causation is blurry, given that there are positive links between both work stress and depression and absenteeism.[4] Depressive tendencies may lie behind some of the absence ascribed to poor physical health, as with adoption of a "culturally approved sick role". This places the adjective "sickness" before the word "absence", and carries a burden of more proof than is usually offered.

Evidence indicates that absence is generally viewed as "mildly deviant workplace behavior". For example, people tend to hold negative stereotypes of absentees, under report their own absenteeism, and believe their own attendance record is better than that of their peers. Negative attributions about absence then bring about three outcomes: the behavior is open to social control, sensitive to social context, and is a potential source of workplace conflict.

Narcissism and psychopathy[edit]

Thomas suggests that there tends to be a higher level of stress with people who work or interact with a narcissist, which in turn increases absenteeism and staff turnover.[6] Boddy finds the same dynamic where there is corporate psychopath in the organisation.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Johns 2007, p. 4
  2. ^ CIPD Absence management 2013
  3. ^ The Case For Health Benefits
  4. ^ a b Johns 2007, p. 5
  5. ^ Roland, Brian, Abenity President & CEO (May 4, 2012). "Hot Topic: Why Is Employee Wellness Important?". Abenity. Retrieved October 29, 2013. 
  6. ^ Thomas D Narcissism: Behind the Mask (2010)
  7. ^ Boddy, C. R. Corporate Psychopaths: Organizational Destroyers (2011)


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Thu, 28 Aug 2014 11:11:15 -0700

Assembly Bill 1866, by Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima), would require the state student data system, known as CALPADS, to add reports on chronic absenteeism using attendance data on individual students that districts would upload. Everyone ...
Ghana Broadcasting Corporation
Mon, 01 Sep 2014 03:18:45 -0700

A Deputy Minister in charge of Secondary Education, Alex Kyeremeh says Ghana tops the list of countries in the sub-region with teacher absenteeism. He said though the percentage has reduced from 27% to 11%, it is still a worrying phenomenon.

News & Observer

The Japan Times
Sun, 31 Aug 2014 02:00:00 -0700

No matter how chronic absenteeism is defined, however, school districts in both Japan and the U.S. have a legal duty to intervene when students are not in class. Early intervention is crucial. That's because once students fall behind, the likelihood of ...

Arab News

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Fri, 29 Aug 2014 13:15:00 -0700

He warned the principals of night schools against accepting non-Saudi students without the approval of the education department. According to the plan laid out by the Education Ministry, the percentage of absenteeism at public schools should not exceed ...

Maui Now

KITV Honolulu
Mon, 25 Aug 2014 17:33:45 -0700

The DOE says chronic absenteeism is one of the most powerful predictors of student success, even accounting for other factors such as poverty and disability. Curbing chronic absenteeism is a key focus of the Strive HI Performance System, which supports ...
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The Foundation for Irrigation and Sustainable Development (FISD) has said despite increasing enrolment, attendance and retention in primary schools' feeding programs, absenteeism of cooking volunteers is affecting the program implementation.
Tue, 26 Aug 2014 07:03:45 -0700

As a result, the district is being designated as having "chronic absenteeism," which is determined by the percentage of students who miss 10 percent or more school days. "At this level, the district will begin to enforce Policy 5240, which states every ...
Tampabay.com (blog)
Tue, 26 Aug 2014 06:07:30 -0700

5. ... the Florida cohort data suggests that in most cases chronic absenteeism is not an isolated occurrence but a frequent and recurring one with cumulative effects for such students. 6. ... between one-quarter and one-third of all chronically absent ...

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