The pandemic has triggered absenteeism to last century levels

Javier González NavarroJavier González Navarro




The rate of absenteeism It reached 5.5% last year in Spain, which was the highest figure in the last 20 years. However, the emergence of Covid-19 shot that rate to 6.3% in the first quarter of this year and up to 8.9% in the second quarter, the highest percentages since the last century, according to the latest report. from Adecco Group Institute, the Adecco group’s study and dissemination center.

In approximate terms, two thirds of the increase in absenteeism in the first half of 2020 is explained by the increase in common diseases and non-occupational accidents, as a direct effect of the pandemic. The hours lost due to temporary disability (IT) reached, in the second quarter of 2020, almost 89 annualized hours, on average, per worker. It is, for example, double that in 2012 and 2013. The remaining third is explained by a set of reasons, among which the increase in hours not worked due to leave (almost 17 hours annualized in the second quarter, practically triple than in 2018 and 2019) and the hours lost in the workplace (for example, due to lack of supplies, machinery breakdown or absence of colleagues who prevent the completion of a certain activity, all things directly or indirectly linked to the coronavirus pandemic) , according to the report.

Last year, ten autonomies registered their highest absenteeism rates since 2000, another three increased their rate without reaching historical highs -Cantabria, Catalonia and the Valencian Community- and another four reduced or kept their absenteeism rate the same -Baleares, Castilla y León, the Community of Madrid and La Rioja-.

But the absenteeism rate jumped in all the autonomies in the first half of 2020 due to the irruption of the coronavirus and all reached their respective historical maximum. The three highest correspond to the Valencian Community, the Canary Islands (9.6% in both cases) and the Basque Country (9.5%). In the opposite situation, there are only two regions where the absenteeism rate has remained below 7%: the Community of Madrid (6.9%) and Extremadura (5.6%).

Besides the hours of work that are lost due to vacations and holidays and ERTE, there are many other reasons that cause occasional losses and that are considered absenteeism. The most important of these reasons is temporary disability (IT, common illness). Absenteeism is the set of hours not worked for occasional reasons.

Erroneously, absenteeism is often equated with unexcused absences. Although the latter are a part of absenteeism, they are not the most important portion. Also included within absenteeism are, for example, hours not worked due to maternity, paid leave, and labor unrest.

The volatility of Covid-19 has not only led us to change the order of occupational health concerns for working people, it has also affected common and professional contingencies. Losses of more than a year due to common illness have shot up 27% and the health crisis leads to a cost of absences of 8,000 million euros, according to government figures.

On the other hand, we find a significant reduction in work accidents, both in number (124,975 fewer accidents from January to September 2020) and in incidence rates (214.4 compared to 279.9 in 2019), but the The impact of the coronavirus has increased the number of fatal accidents by 8%.

The sharp drop in economic activity as a result of measures to combat the coronavirus also led to a sharp drop in overtime, which in the second quarter of 2020 set a new low, equivalent to 0.27% of the agreed hours. This confirms the close link between overtime and the level of economic activity.

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