The Australian ‘Sickie’ In Numbers [Infographic]

The Australian ‘Sickie’ In Numbers [Infographic]

Last year, workplace absenteeism allegedly cost Australian businesses a whopping $33 billion in lost productivity. Up to 70 per cent was caused by “entitlement mentality”. This number-packed infographic looks at all the ways workplace sickies affect companies, along with a few ways to fix the problem.

The infographic below comes from payroll and contractor management company Ayers. As you can see, it paints a pretty somber picture of absenteeism culture in Australia. Of course, any monetary figure attached to employee absence need to be taken with a grain of salt — as the old argument goes, a sick person who shows up to work usually causes more damage than a person who stays at home. Nevertheless, it makes for very interesting reading, particularly the areas dealing with worst-offending industries and the rise in workplace anxiety.

[Via Ayers Management]


  • I keep seeing this “9.5 days” reported. That means that, either there are lots of people taking unpaid sick leave and it’s getting recorded, or that there are lots of people with a sick leave entitlement of more than 10 days.
    Consider that if one person takes a “reasonable” amount of sick leave, say 5 days, there would have to be 9 people taking their full allotment of 10 days in order to drag that average up to 9.5. It just seems unlikely to me. Any lifehacker out there got an explanation?

    • id hazard a guess that it would be the opposite calculation to yours, 1 person taking way more sick days then is reasonable and the reasonable people drag the average back down, i think we all know that one person in the company that always seems to be out sick especially in bigger workplaces

      • I do suppose that there are going to be all the people out there that are out on long term injury/illness that get their 10 days paid, and then have 3-12 months unpaid as a protected entitlement. So, conversely, for one person who takes 178 days off, you’d need 38 people taking 5 days.

  • I just don’t get if 5% of people call in sick each day, how each person only has 9.5 days off per year. For 48 weeks of work (52 – 4 weeks holiday) 5% of people calling in each day would equal 12 days per year. Anyone?

  • In some industries the average level of sick leave is much higher. In my workplace many people take in excess of twenty days a year of which much will be unpaid. Often people who live at home with their parents aren’t worried about money or what their employer may think.

  • Did you know that almost half (40%) of sick days are piggy backed to a weekend*?

    People who go to work when they aren’t well (eg. flu) can spread disease and take more people out, or they prolong their sickness and reduced productivity. So, I don’t necessarily agree with the lost $$ figures.

    * There are 5 days in a week. There’s approximately a 20% chance that people will take any day off (5 * 20%=100%), hence, 40% chance of a Monday or a Friday. I LOVE statistics.

    • You make a good point.

      The infographic seems to be using the full statistics of absenteeism to represent the statistics for invalid “sickies”. As such, the infographic is suggesting that illness does not exist and that all sick leave is an avoidable cost to business. I work in healthcare and staff who come to work unwell are a risk to other staff and to patients. They can also cost the organisation significantly more money than the avoided sick leave by bringing down an entire ward or facility, which further puts patients at risk through under-staffing.

      I remember a manager ranting once that “almost 50%” of sick leave happens before or after a weekend, which proved his belief that all staff were lazy. I also had to gently point out that “nearly half’ of the workdays occur before or after a weekend, so maybe that had something to do with it.

  • No, it’s not an “entitlement” when you “feel like it”, otherwise it would accrue and be paid out at the end of your employment like Annual Leave. It’s a safety net for genuine instances of illness paid for by the business. And “innocent until proven guilty” does not apply, or Fair Work Australia would not allow Employment Agreements that require reasonable medical proof before you can claim a Personal Leave day, which is the case for some agreements. Does that sound like an “entitlement” where you can just take all 10 days because you “feel like it”?

  • I took a sickie from my congregation to catch up on all the Lifehacker articles I’ve missed due to all the baptisms i’ve had to conduct. You know the saying: “when it rains it pauls.” Forgive me Father for my abandonment of my duties…I must attend confession…wait what!!!

  • Disappointed someone thought this was worthy of an article unless it was “Good work Australia”

    People are entitled to 14 days a year off as this is the average amount of time someone should need off for illness.
    9.5 days off average seems fair.
    7% increase since 2010 When the studys that people where coming to work sick and infecting the work force came out and employers started encouraging employees not to come to work sick.

    5% of the work force is off sick each day (thats math (14daysoff/250workday)*100percent = 5.6%)

    • Would like to add that this reads like someone selling a payroll product and used real stats but put a negative spin on reasonable stats.

      FYI this comes from someone who averages taking about 5 days a year.

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