Evolution of the absenteeism rate since 2010; Credit: MSS

Absenteeism in the workplace has increased by 18% over one year, according to statistics published on 18 November 2021 at a press conference by Luxembourg's Minister of Social Security, Romain Schneider.

Each year, the General Social Security Inspectorate (IGSS) provides a report covering the main aspects of absenteeism due to illness, including an overview of the problem, a breakdown of the absenteeism rate according to different individual characteristics, a sectoral analysis, an analysis of the medical reasons for absences, an estimate of the direct cost of absenteeism as well as an examination of the situation observed during the first months of the current year.

The results for the year 2020 show that the health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented increase in the absenteeism rate (number of days of absence compared to the number of days of employment) which has increased from 3.88% in 2019 to 4.58% in 2020 (+17.8%). The magnitude of this increase is reflected both in the evolution of the short-term rate (absences of less than 21 days) as in that of the long-term rate.

"It is clear from this report that the COVID-19 pandemic is the main factor of an 18% increase in the absenteeism rate", commented Minister Schneider.

The IGSS report also highlights the fact that the increase in the absenteeism rate observed in 2020 results almost exclusively from an increase in the average duration of absence episodes (+28.9%), which suggests that the role played by the quarantine and isolation measures, through the periods decreed by the health authorities (up to 14 days at the start of the crisis), was major. The decrease in the number of people absent (-7.9%) is, for its part, attributed to the measures implemented by the government to fight against the spread of the virus and to the effect that the barrier gestures (wearing a mask, physical distancing and regular hand washing) on ​​the progression of infectious and parasitic diseases (influenza, gastroenteritis, etc.).

The direct cost of absenteeism, which consists of the amount of the continuation of the remuneration in the event of illness at the expense of the employers (first thirteen weeks) as well as the sum of the pecuniary allowances paid by the National Health Fund (CNS), between 2019 and 2020, from €775.3 million to €900.8 million (+16.2%), thus representing 3.1% of total employee compensation.

With regard to the year 2021, the absenteeism rate remains at a high level, but nevertheless well below the values ​​observed in March-April 2020. Over the first nine months of the year, the absenteeism rates averaged 4.22%. It thus shows a drop of 3.5% compared to the rate observed during the first nine months of 2020 (4.38%), but remains 10.4% higher than that observed over the same period in 2019.