In paper and printing the average level of employee absence fell from 5.6 days per year in 2012 to 4.9 days in 2013. This marks the second annual fall in absence levels since 2011, when the average number of days lost per employee rose to 6.8 from 6.3 in 2010.

The downward trend in printing and paper is in contrast to the performance of the manufacturing and production sector as a whole, which has seen average employee absence increase from 5.7 in 2011 to 6.0 in 2012 and 2013.

However, manufacturing still has the lowest absence levels of the four sectors included in the CIPD survey. Of the other three, public services has the highest absence rate at 8.7 days, followed by non-profit organisations with 8.1 days and private sector services with 7.2 days.

The CIPD noted that, on average, absence levels had increased by nearly one day per employee to 7.6 days, returning to levels previously observed in 2011 and 2010.

Short-term absences of up to seven days accounted for two-thirds of working time lost to absence in 2013, while long-term absences of four weeks or more were responsible for a fifth. However, there were significant variations between sectors and in manufacturing and production, short-term absences contributed to 76% of the total versus just 13% for long-term.

The CIPD estimates that the annual median cost of absence per employee in 2013 was £595.

For a full copy of the report, visit the CIPD website.