Absence data is fundamentally poor intelligence. Not all absence is attributed to sickness, there is disengagement, revenge, avoidance etc etc. I have had employees referred to me for anxiety and persistent short term sickness and when you dig deep it’s been any number of social barriers, for example, not being able to afford to put fuel in their car, no public transport and the shame of asking for help. Less than 1% of employees who take time off sick want to be off sick and the threat of loosing their job because of poor attendance has never been greater, hence the presenteeism phenomenon. After 33 years of working in this field I think it’s time we stopped using sickness absence as a yardstick for efficiency and wellbeing in the workplace and focus on the complex human conditions. I believe that promoting hope, compassion, understanding and good work for all is part of the solution.