Alarm over R3.9 bn worth of output lost to sick leave

2012-05-10 10:41

South Africa lost R3.9 billion worth of output last year to sick leave and absenteeism, recruitment company Adcorp has said.

“The cost to the economy has been enormous. Due to the unplanned and unpredictable nature of sick leave, the knock-on disruptive effects on supply chains has probably been greater than these figures suggest.”

Average output per worker was R140 855 a year, or R574.92 a working day.

In 2011, 3.4 million workers were absent because of sick leave, according to the Adcorp Employment Index.

Sick leave taken had increased by 397% from 2000, when 0.7 million workers were absent.

In real terms, the economy had lost a cumulative R47.5 billion since 2000.

Between 2009 and 2011, a quarter of all workers took up in full the maximum statutory allowance for sick leave, of 36 days in a three-year cycle.

“Sickness-related absenteeism has increased four-fold since 2007,” Adcorp said.

This was despite the fact that employment numbers were virtually flat over the decade.

The rise of absenteeism may also have contributed to the growing phenomenon of temporary or contingency workers, the company suggested.

Roughly half of agency workers were employed as substitutes for absent employees.

Absenteeism was most pronounced in the government sector. A third of public sector workers were absent for health reasons, compared to 9.2% of private sector workers.

Poor managerial oversight, lax administrative controls, outmoded information systems and weak human resource functions in the government sector appeared to contribute to the poor control of absenteeism, Adcorp said.

Heavily unionised sectors such as mining, transport, logistics, and utilities were also affected.

Non-unionised sectors such as finance, personal services, communication, wholesale and retail trade, and agriculture, were less affected.

In genuine cases of illness, the nature of the work itself could be implicated.

However, in false cases, the take up of sick leave allowances could be a function of how generous those allowances were, and the degree to which absenteeism was monitored and controlled.

“It is alarming that sick leave in South Africa has been rising continuously over the past decade, with no signs of reversing,” Adcorp said.

It noted that 69 780 jobs were created in April, with employment growing at an annualised rate of 4.3%. This was the fourth consecutive month in which employment growth had been strong. Temporary work rose by 5.8%.

Together with permanent jobs, which grew by 4.2%, these sectors were the strongest performers. Formal sector employment represented 72.3% of the gain, adding 50 587 jobs.

Informal sector employment accounted for the remaining 19,193 jobs.

Mining jobs fell sharply at 11.8%, as did manufacturing jobs at 6.2 percent respectively.
Transport, logistics and communications increased by 19.4 percent.

Employment growth was robust in retail and wholesale trade (11.2%) and construction (7.6%), the index showed.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.