Cost of employee absenteeism hits record high in New Zealand

Firms in New Zealand are paying a higher price for employees on medical leave, with the highest increase in absenteeism rates recorded since 2012.
By: | September 12, 2023

Employers are incurring higher costs to cover employee absenteeism due to medical leave in New Zealand, according to a biennial workplace wellness survey conducted by Southern Cross Health Society and BusinessNZ. 

The survey, which saw 137 responses from organisations in the private and public sectors, showed that on average, the rate of absence was 5.5 days per employee in 2022. It is a significant increase when compared to the rate of absence between 4.2 and 4.7 days between 2012 and 2020, hitting the highest rate of absenteeism since the survey began in 2012.

This translates to a NZD $2.86 billion (USD $1.69) loss for the economy, a substantial rise from NZD $1.85 billion (USD$1.09 billion) in the previous survey conducted in 2020. It also highlighted that the median annual cost per absent employee in 2022 was NZD $1235 (USD$730.29), surpassing the previous record of NZS $1007 (USD $595,46) in 2018.

Attributing the higher absences to the impact of COVID-19 and the mandatory seven-day isolation period, South Cross’ Chief Executive Nick Astwick also noted that the increase in leave entitlement from five days to 10 days could have also contributed to the rise in absences and more employees utilising their leave.

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The survey further revealed that about half of the organisations surveyed reported an increase in stress among their staff, with financial concerns being the primary reason. Additionally, approximately one in five employers noted “quiet quitting” as a rising concern amongst employees. Astwick emphasised the importance of re-engaging dissatisfied staff to address this issue, reported the Clayton County Register