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A situation in which a large number of workers consistently do not come to work, especially for illegitimate reasons. Absenteeism implies that the workers are not terminated for their actions. It can be a sign of poor management.


  1. the level of unsanctioned absences from work in an organization.
  2. chronic unsanctioned absence from work by individuals.

    Absence from work may be sanctioned by managers in advance for certain reasons (for example for a forthcoming visit to the dentist), or may be sanctioned subsequently (for example for illness – see SICK PAY). The difficulty arises where there are no acceptable reasons for absence or where managers believe the excuses tendered to be untrue.

    In theory, DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURES can be activated but it can be difficult to prove that employees were absent without due cause. Managers could visit absentees at home to establish the facts but this can be time-consuming and counter-productive since it can indicate to committed employees that they are not trusted. Whilst punishing absence can be difficult, measures can be taken to encourage attendance, such as extra pay (see ATTENDANCE BONUS). A high level of absenteeism is often seen as an indicator of the quality of a workforce but it can equally be an indicator of poor working conditions. Improvement of the latter may also reduce absenteeism.


unsanctioned absences from work by employees. The level of absenteeism in a particular firm often reflects working conditions and morale amongst workers in that firm and affects the firm's PRODUCTIVITY. See SUPPLY-SIDE ECONOMICS.
References in periodicals archive ?
Surprisingly, poor weather was a reoccurring motive behind those in Northern Ireland pulling a sickie.
The business organisation surveyed 400 private firms and public sector organisations and found employers believed some 12% of absence involved staff pulling a sickie at a cost to the economy of pounds 1.
PLEASE spare a thought for those genuinely poorly people who had no alternative but to ring their bosses on Monday - National Sickie Day - to say they were ill.
The conventional wisdom - one naturally encouraged by BA's bosses - is the check-in staff and their union, the GMB, are selfish, irresponsible, driven by inter-union rivalry and throwing sickies whenever they feel like it - a disaster for an airline fighting to stay in the air.
Among those companies likely to suffer the financial implications of one-day sickies the most are small businesses.
The survey determined that 60 percent of Americans believe taking a sickie every few months would improve their mental health and productivity, with 28 percent admitting they have taken sickies during the last year.
Feeling stressed was the number one reason for sickies, according the survey by workforce managers Kronos.
BOSSES are being urged to let workers watch England in the World Cup to avoid staff sickies and a rush for annual leave.
2mbill for teachers putting in sickies (Examiner, January 7).
Most of you will probably work with someone who takes lots of sickies and will be only too aware that it's pretty hard to stop people making up spurious excuses for not turning in.
Managers told the CBI that they suspected workers faked an illness to take a Monday or Friday off work and many employers said there was a link between sickies and holidays and sporting events.
Managers told the CBI they suspected workers faked an illness to take a Monday or Friday off work and many employers said there was a link between sickies and holidays and sporting events.