Much to the consternation of my wife and family, I’ll be the first to admit I don’t do vacation well, or take sick days.
At the end of the year, predictably, I’ll have accumulated enough unused vacation and sick time that I could construct an aircraft carrier in my backyard and still carry days over to the next year.

I was once sent home from a job only because I had taken my temperature after feeling slightly warm and discovered it was approaching 104 degrees.

I can’t put forth a rational explanation for my behavior since I ultimately wind up losing in the end. But I always felt awkward calling in sick or worried that somehow I was missing something important while lying on a beach or traversing Space Mountain.

However in the annals of my working life, I’ve known a number of colleagues and co-workers who had no such hang-up.

One former co-worker could be counted on to miss a minimum of  two Mondays a month. There was an in-house joke that he was employed under the  “Johnny Carson clause” because he was always absent from his chair on Mondays.

I reveal this character flaw because according to a survey of more than 300 human resources executives compiled by tax and financial products and services provider CCH, absenteeism was 2.3 percent thus far in 2007, a slight dip from the prior year.

Translated into layman’s terms, that means that for every 100 hours employers pay their workers to be present, they’re also shelling out for an additional 2.3 hours as said employees perform their best impression of the invisible man.

The payroll cost tied to that absenteeism figure for companies over 1,000 employees averaged about $764,000. That, however, doesn’t include hard-to-quantify expenses such as lower productivity and reduced morale.

According to the poll, personal illness accounts for only 34 percent of unscheduled absences, while some 66 percent of absences are due to other factors such as family issues, personal needs, an entitlement mentality and the old standby, stress.

The study also examines presenteeism —  when employees come to work, like yours truly, despite temperatures equaling Sudan or a cough that could register on the Richter Scale. Thirty-eight percent of employers indicated that presenteeism is a problem.

To reduce that, more than half of those surveyed said they send sick employees home, while about 40 percent educate their workers on the importance of remaining home when they’re sick to reduce the chances of infecting others.

Though worthwhile, I’m skeptical that these findings will have any significant effect on my recalcitrance to going on vacation or remaining home with the sniffles.

But it could easily serve as a guide for employers who field regular calls from employees claiming that their household pets devoured their car keys.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access