If you plan to absent tomorrow, read this...

SECURITY BLANKET - Dr. Nina Halili-Jao -

MANILA, Philippines - Absenteeism is the term used to refer to an employee’s failure to come to work when he is scheduled to work or the absence of workers from the regular work without prior permission, notice or sanction. It is therefore unauthorized leave, absence without leave and is different from regular holiday. Actually, absenteeism is absence which is willful but avoidable.

Research studies have shown that the days prior and after a holiday are liable to higher rate of absenteeism; females are absent more often than males; bad weather, tropical depression, typhoon or other natural calamity can increase rate of absenteeism, especially among worker who live far from the workplace; rank and file employees are more frequently absent compared to supervisors and managers; and workers below the age of 25 years and above the age of 55 years are absent more often than those in age group of 26 to 55 years.

Absenteeism are classified in to four types: (1) Authorized Absenteeism is when an employee is absent from work by taking permission from his superior and applying for leave; (2) Unauthorized Absenteeism is when an employee is absent from work without informing or taking permission and without applying for leave; (3) Willful Absenteeism is when an employee absents himself from work willfully; (4) absenteeism caused by circumstances beyond one’s control — when an employee absents himself from work due to circumstances beyond his control like accidents or sickness.

The common reasons for absenteeism at work are: (1) nature of the work; (2) poor working conditions; (3) lack of regular leave arrangements; (4) Accidents; (5) lack of irregular transport facilities; (6) lack of interest; (7) alcoholism and gambling addiction; and (8) low level of wages.

 What can the supervisor do regarding absenteeism? Apart from making clear that work is appropriately covered during the employee’s absence, supervisors need to manage absenteeism. The supervisor can make all workers fully aware of the company’s policies and procedures for dealing with absence. He or she should be the first person of contact when an employee phones in sick. He or she should also keep appropriately detailed, accurate and up-to-date absence records of their staff and determine and identify any patterns or trends of absence which cause concern. He or she can enforce disciplinary procedures where necessary.

Absenteeism can cause harmful consequences to both the employees and the workers. Production output is diminished and flow in the factory is disturbed thus the need to employ casual workers to meet production schedule even if such casual workers are not trained properly. Overtime pay bill increases and there are additional stress and pressure of work on employees who are present. Workers may also lose wages for the unauthorized absence from work. Chronic or habitual absentees may be removed from services causing them great hardship.

What are the possible management measures to control absenteeism?

1. Proper screening and hiring. It is necessary that people with the proper skills and experience are hired. Each worker should as far as possible be assigned work according to capabilities, aptitude and interest.

2. Proper working conditions. Proper sanitation, drinking water, canteen, first aid and rest pauses definitely can help to reduce absenteeism by making work environment pleasant.

3. Housing and transport facilities. Provision of housing accommodation, preferably near the factory and bus facility, will ensure regular attendance of workers. The Commission on Audit has bus shuttles for their employees and have dorm facilities at its main office in Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.

4. Safety programs. Safety measures help to minimize industrial accidents and reduce fear of injury among employees.

5. Incentives. Bonus, cash prizes and preference in promotion to regular employees encourage workers to be regular in their attendance. The big TV networks have big bonuses for their regular employees.

6. Regular and effective supervision. Supervisors can considerably reduce absenteeism by earning the confidence and commitment of workers by being examples to their subordinates.

7. Disciplinary action. Proper action should be taken against chronic absentees. Punitive action may be in the form of publishing their names in company house magazines, fines, withholding pay increment, denial of promotion, suspension, dismissal, etc.

8. Regular leaves. Provision should be made wherein each worker can avail a few days of leave during a year. Holidays with pay will enable a worker to attend to his private affairs.

9. Counseling. Counseling help employees to eliminate bad habits like drinking and gambling. Habitual absentees can be persuaded to become regular by impressing upon them the loss of income and privileges like promotions arising from their absenteeism. Education and training can be used to develop a sense of responsibility.

10. Complete records. Detailed and chronological update records of absenteeism should be maintained. Absenteeism above the predetermined level should be carefully analyzed age-wise, sex-wise, month-wise and other bases.

11. Health policies aimed at improving the general health of employees. Such measures can improve industrial relations, increase productivity, lower absence and accident rates and improve the organization’s public image. Health screening offers benefits to both employees and companies.

For the employees, health screening detects serious health conditions, such as cancer and heart disease, even at an early stage. This means employees can receive effective help immediately — whether it is just changing their lifestyle or taking medication. In general, many employees who undergo a scan have no abnormalities at all which gives them tremendous peace of mind.

For companies, there will be less sick employees and less absentees. At the Commission on Audit, there is a medical dental division clinic that includes medical, dental, laboratory and even psychiatric services for its employees, dependents and even their retirees.

(E-mail me at nina.[email protected])










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