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Absence Rates

Volume 450: debated on Wednesday 11 October 2006

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many days were lost through absence in (a) private sector businesses and (b) public sector organisations in the last 12 months. (91871)

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Colin Mowl, dated 9 October 2006:

The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question about days lost through absence in the private and public sectors. I am replying in her absence. (91871)

The number of days lost through sickness absence in a specific year is not available. However the Labour Force Survey (LFS), which is a continuous survey throughout the year, asks employed respondents for the number of working days lost due to sickness or injury during the week before the LFS interview. The attached table shows these estimates for interviews carried out between April and June 2005 and 2006. It is not possible to scale this data, which reflects specific points in time, to represent an annual period. In addition, different employment and working patterns affect whether the question is actually asked and the actual responses to the question.

These estimates from the LFS are, as with any sample survey, subject to sampling variability.

Number of days lost due to sickness absence1 by public or private sector, 2005 and 2006 United Kingdom, not seasonally adjusted


LFS survey period April-June

Private sector

Public sector


Number of days lost in the LFS interview week2



Absence rate3




Number of days lost in the LFS interview week2



Absence rate3



1 Employees scheduled to work in the reference week for the survey period April-June. 2 Quarterly and annual estimates constructed by multiplying these data by 13 or 52 would not be representative of these periods because sickness absence over the period of a specific week is not representative of a longer period and different employment and working patterns affect the responses to the question. 3 Employees absent for at least one day in the LFS interview week due to sickness absence as a percentage of all employees in each sector. Source: ONS Labour Force Survey (LFS)