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Dear Workforce What Does Absenteeism Cost How Do I Address Tardiness

Absenteeism results in $600 annually in direct costs; more if you add in various snowball-effect expenses and losses. Addressing tardiness may need to begin with your EAP.
November 8, 2000
Related Topics: Attendance, Dear Workforce

Dear Workforce:

What is the most recent estimated cost of absenteeism in the workplace?Similar to that, what can I do to address tardiness? I haven’t gotten resultsthrough coaching, dialogue, or a flexible schedule. Thanks.

--Antonio, weekend supervisor, Wisconsin

A Dear Antonio:

First, Absenteeism: According to CCH, unscheduled absenteeism can costup to an average of $602 per employee per year, not including indirect costssuch as overtime pay for other employees, hiring temps, missed deadlines, lostsales, sinking morale and lower productivity.

Indirect costs can add up to 25% to the direct costs (Employee BenefitNews, Dec. '99, and HR News, 11-99).

In a survey of 11 U.S. based telecommunications companies, 72 cents of everydollar ofcosts related to employee absence stemmed from lost productivity,rather than such hard costs as health care and disability benefits (BusinessInsurance, July 10, 2000).

On to addressing the tardiness problem: If the employer has an EAPbenefit, the logical next step would be to mandate counseling. At this point,the company should have determined to its satisfaction that the problem is notrelated to an ADA issues, or that of another federal act.

If EAP counseling fails, the next step in most companies would be documenteddisciplinary action as prescribed by the company's HR procedures/policiesmanual.

Sometimes, this is just the shock necessary to cause the employee to refocuson what the company's standards are, and to face the possibility of having tochoose, eventually, between meeting performance standards and making a change ina job or career.


SOURCE: Work/Life Benefits, Cypress, CA. Jeannine Scott, HR generalist atWork/Life Benefits, wrote the answer about tardiness.

E-mail your Dear Workforce questions to Online Editor Todd Raphael at,along with your name, title, organization and location. Unless you stateotherwise, your identifying information may be used on andin Workforce magazine. We can’t guarantee we’ll be able to answerevery question.


 The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

If you have any questions or concerns about, please email or call 312-676-9900.

The Workforce fax number is 312-676-9901.

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