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Aging Drives Workforce Absence

Demographic forces are helping drive up the Canadian workforce's reported absence rates owing to illness, says a study by the C.D. Howe Institute. In ‘Absent With Leave: The Implications of Demographic Change for Worker Absenteeism,’ authors Finn Poschmann and Omar Chatur find, over the long term, absence rates have climbed, identify potential causes, and recommend steps to address this challenge to productivity. "Over the past 30 years, absence rates have risen in Canada's workforce, overall, raising important questions about why days lost owing to reported illness are climbing," says Poschmann. Its data shows striking differences in absence-rate trends which depend on age, sex, and union status. Days lost owing to illness vary across age groups and as the demographic weight of Canada's population shifts from younger to older categories, reported days lost rise. Absence rates for female versus male workers of all ages and types have diverged over the course of the last few decades, with females reporting more days off and men's rate showing little change. As well, public sector employees report more workplace absences than do private sector employees. Workers in unionized settings, in which female participation has grown tremendously, take more sick leave days than those in non-union settings. It says workplaces and government practices and policies must adjust to these realities, through a combination of accommodation, flexibility, and planning.

Courtesy of Benefits and Pensions Monitor website News Alerts

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