What is Absenteeism? Features and Types of Absenteeism

Meaning and Definition of Absenteeism

A frequent people problem managers and HR professionals have to face is absenteeism. Absenteeism is an employee’s intentional or habitual absence from work. While employers expect workers to miss a certain number of workdays each year, excessive absence can equate to decreased productivity and can have a major effect on company finances, moral and other factors.

It damaging to both the employee and the organization because it puts the employee in a  negative light and is stereotyped for that behaviour. Such employees are seen as potential source of conflict the workplace.


According to Encyclopedia of Social Sciences___”Absenteeism is the time lost in industrial establishments by the avoidable or unavoidable absence of employees“.

According to Labour Department___” Absenteeism is the total man-shifts lost because of absentees as a percentage of the total number of man-shifts scheduled“.

According to Martocchio and Harrison___”Absenteeism is defined as an individual’s lack of physical presence at a given location and time when there is a social expectation for him or her to be there“.

Features of Absenteeism

  1. The rate of absenteeism is the lowest on pay day, It increases considerably in the days following the payment of wages and bonus.
  2. It generally high among the workers below 25 Years of age and those above 40 Years of age.
  3. The rate of absenteeism varies from department to department within an organization. Generally, it is high in the production
  4. Absenteeism in traditional industries is seasonal in character.
  5. The incidence of absenteeism is usually higher in the night shifts than in the day shifts.
  6. The percentage of absenteeism is generally much higher in mining and plantation industries as compared to compared to organized manufacturing industries.

Types of Absenteeism

1. Authorized Absenteeism: If an employee is absent himself from work by taking permission from his superior and applying for leave, such absenteeism is called authorized The legitimate reasons for authorized absenteeism are earned vacations, sickness and post-air raid needs, such as repairing damage at home, re-establishing one’s domicile, or searching for relatives.

2. Unauthorized Absenteeism: If an employee is absent himself from work without informing or taking permission and without applying for leave, such absenteeism is called unauthorised

The Unauthorized absence of workers has always been an as a serious managerial problem in the corporation as it has a negative effect on daily programming and execution of work as well as on total output. The effect of unauthorised absenteeism is more compared other types of absenteeism.

3. Wilful Absenteeism: If an employee is absent himself from duty willfully, such absenteeism is called wilful absenteeism. Wilful absenteeism is extremely undesirable and strict actions are taken against it. It is a serious offence because it inconveniences the employer.

4. Absenteeism Caused By Circumstances Beyond One’s Control: 

If an employee is absent himself from duty owing to the circumstances beyond his control like involvement in accidents or sudden sickness, such absenteeism is called absenteeism caused by circumstances beyond one’s control.

Causes of Absenteeism

  • Maladjustment with the working conditions: If the working conditions of the company are poor, the workers cannot adjust themselves to the company’s working conditions. Then they perfect to stay away from the company.
  • Social and Religious Ceremonies: Social and religious functions divert the worker’s attention from the work
  • Industrial Fatigue: The industrial fatigue compels the workers to remain outside the workplace.
  • Unhealthy Working Conditions: The poor and intolerable working conditions in the factories irritate the workers. Excess heat, noise, either too much or too low lighting, poor ventilation, dust, smoke, etc. Cause poor health of the workers. These factors cause the workers to be absent.
  • Poor Welfare Facilities: Though a number of legislation concerning welfare facilities are enacted, many organizations fail to the companies or due to the exploitative attitude of the employer. The poor welfare facilities include poor sanitation, washing, bathing, first-aid appliances, ambulance, restrooms, drinking water, canteen, shelter, creches, etc. Dissatisfied workers with these facilities prefer to be away from the workplace.
  • Alcoholism: workers mostly prefer to spend money on the consumption of liquor and enjoyment after getting the wage. There the rate of absenteeism is more during the first week of every month.
  • Indebtedness: The low-level wages and unplanned expenditure of the workers force them to borrow heavily. The research studies indicate that workers borrow more than 10 times of their net pay. Consequently, workers fail to repay the money. Then they try to escape from the place in order to avoid the moneylenders. This leads to absenteeism.
  • Maladjustments with the Job Demands: The fast-changing technology demands higher level skills from the workers. Some workers fail to meet these demands due to their lower level education and or absence of training.
  • Unsound Personnel Policies: The improper and unrealistic personnel policies result in employee dissatisfaction. Dissatisfied in turn prefer to be away from the work.
  • Inadequate Level Facilities: The inadequate level facilities provided by the employer forces him to depend on E.S.I. leave which allows the worker to be away from the work.
  • Low Level of Wages: Wages in some organization are very poor and they are quite inadequate to meet the basic needs of the employees. Therefore, employees go for other employment during their busy seasons and earn more money. Further, some employees take up part-time jobs. Thus, the employees resort to moonlighting and absent themselves from work.