EEF launches Sickness Absence Benchmark for manufacturers

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Survey latest in series to help employers manage labour issues

EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation has launched its annual Sickness Absence Benchmark, the latest in its series of guides to help employers manage labour issues within their company. 

The latest guide follows on from the previous labour turnover and shift pay benchmarks and will be followed by a further guide on managing sick pay.

According to the sickness absence benchmark the overall absence rate has remained unchanged in the last year, at 2.3%, continuing the theme of stability in the absence statistics since 2010. 

Furthermore, the average number of days lost to sickness absence per employee declined slightly in 2016 to 5.2 days.  Although both manual and non-manual employees have seen a drop in days lost to absence, manual workers continue to exhibit higher rates of sick leave, with an average of 6.1 days lost compared to nearly half that number of non-manual employees (3.1 days).

The benchmark also provides an overall manufacturing breakdown in addition to the sub sector data.  In 2016, across manufacturing the average number of days lost to absence was 5.3, nearly half a day more than the days lost in non-manufacturing companies (average of 4.9 days per employee).

There is some variance in absence across the manufacturing sub sectors.  Electrical & Precision Products & Equipment recorded the lowest absence, at 3.8 days lost per worker, in contrast Motor Vehicles, Other Transport & Equipment for the second year in a row posted the highest figures at an average of 7.2 days absent in 2016.

The smallest companies continue to lead the way with the least absence.  Employers of up to 50 had an absence rate of 1.8% in the last year (down from 1.9% the previous year).  Taking up second position are those with a workforce ranging from 51 to 100, who experienced absence rates of 2.2%.

Commenting, Terry Woolmer, EEF Head of Health & Safety Policy, said:

"Employers recognise the critical importance of keeping sickness absence levels to a minimum. Staff morale, productivity and business costs can all be impacted if the amount of time lost to sickness absence isn't effectively managed.

“The positive news is that our annual benchmarking analysis shows that manufacturers are doing just that, with the absence rate and average days lost of absence remaining stable in recent years. Companies should, however, keep their own performance under review and our research allows manufacturers to see how they stand against the industry average."

The Sickness Absence Benchmark, as well as the previous guides are available from They are free to EEF members, no-members can purchase a copy for £50 from

The benchmark report is based on data from EEF’s annual Sickness Absence survey, which will be published in full in July. It covers 222 organisations employing in excess of 46,000 staff.


Media Team 020 7654 1576

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