Definition of absenteeism

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The first difficulty companies face when it comes to managing absenteeism is precisely its definition, given that there is not a single definition.

There are many definitions of absenteeism, given by different authors and institutions. All of them are valid, and the company will have it to define the concept of absenteeism that it will subsequently have to analyse and quantify.

Absenteeism is defined as the absence of a person in his/her workplace in hours that correspond to a working day, within the legal working day.

Other definitions of Absenteeism:

The OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) indicates that absence from work, with or without justified cause, is a universal phenomenon, the difficulty lying in being able to distinguish what is justified from what is not, and here there appear the two denominations, absence and absenteeism, where the difference lies in this distinction.

  • M. V. Martínez Quintana analyses these differences and summarises absences as "rightful" non-presences protected by the law and agreements and absenteeism as "non rightful" non-presences not protected by law or company agreements.
  • J. Ignacio Orbegozo offers another definition that it is very commonly used: "The absence of a person in his/her workplace in hours that correspond to a working day, within the legal working day, measured by the difference in percentage between the total number of working hours agreed in a given period and the number of hours of presence of all the staff in their workplaces."

Source: Management of Absenteeism from Work. FREMAP publishing company 2008.