Introduction Absenteeism

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Text of Introduction Absenteeism

Chapter I

Introduction

1.1 Meaning: Today the success of industrial development in a country is largely determined by the efficiency and experience of its labour force. In this regard, the problems of absenteeism and labour turnover are of great significance. It is the efficiency and experience of workers that would ultimately decide the success of an industry, while the experience and ability of workers largely depend on the elimination of the problem of absenteeism of workers in the industry.

Absenteeism is a major problem that uproots the economic prosperity of any industry or an organization. It can be reduced but not completely eradicated. It is an ever-existing problem of the industrial sector. Throughout the world absence from work has generally been considered on the increase, even though many companies have positive programmes attempting control absenteeism. In spite of the absence control programmes absentees continue to hurt corporate profits severely. In general, the absent rate indicates the relative cost to a given company, because production worker simply cannot produce as much annually when absent rates are high as they can when absent rates are low.

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Absenteeism is a huge, but largely neglected, problem for employees. Labour costs spring first to mind when a company wants to reduce overheads. But while initial attempts to control these almost always focus on direct costs such as wages and benefits or employee numbers, other costs remain hidden. One of those is absenteeism; companies lose hundreds of rupees each year through absenteeism.

Absenteeism is one of the most widespread obstacles to productivity, profitability and competitiveness. It causes overtime, late deliveries, dissatisfied customers and a decline in morale among workers expected to cover for absent colleagues. The indirect costs often exceed the direct while the absenteeism cause considerable losses to the company. It also affects its operations in terms of achieving its ultimate objectives.

No organization can afford to neglect such costs due to worker unnecessarily abstaining from work. The company has to tackle not only production problem but at the same time they have to keep a vigil on the causes of absenteeism and introduce a system to effectively control this problem.

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If all factors of production, human factor plays a decisive role in achieving the end results. But when this human factor in itself is not functioning properly, the adverse effects will be felt in every other aspect. Thus the problem of absenteeism assumes importance as a subject of priority for discussion. Absenteeism is also found to be sensitive to a number of economic variables including earnings and work length. Absenteeism also is found to be more pronounced in workplaces with large proportions of blue-collar workers and when there is a large amount of discontent with working conditions; Absence levels are affected by the age profile of the workforce. The highest levels are found amongst the youngest and oldest workers. The absence pattern for young employees showed a predominance of single-day absences. Older employees tended to have fewer absence spells, but spells of longer duration, suggesting serious illness as an outcome of aging; Small minorities of employees are responsible for a substantial proportion of absence in any organization (the chronic absentees); and Absenteeism is influenced by management practices. Such practices begin with monitoring the problem followed by feedback, employee counselling, maintenance of

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rigorous safety procedures, and incentive systems. More generally, absenteeism was lowest in environments where employee morale was high. 1.2 Definitions: Absenteeism has been variously defined by different authorities.

According to Websters dictionary, absenteeism is the practice or habit of being an absentee, and an absentee is one who habitually stays away. According to Sri J.D. Hackett, Absenteeism means temporary cessation of work, for not less than one whole working day, on the initiative of the worker, when his presence is expected. According Labour Bureau, Simla, absenteeism is the total man shifts lost because of absences as a percentage of the total number of man shifts scheduled to work. So, we can define absenteeism as to be the manifestation of a decision by an employee not to present himself at his place of work at a time when it

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is planned by the management that he should be in attendance and when he has been notified of such expectation. 1.3 Measurement of Absenteeism Absenteeism is a workers trend to stay away from work, when he is scheduled to work. As a matter of fact, it is unauthorized, unexplained, avoidable and willful absence from work. Lack of uniform method and precise definition of absenteeism have created measurement and interpretational problem. Each method of measurement and definition of absenteeism adopted by different agencies will cater to their individual purpose and requirements. 1.4 Rate of Absenteeism The absenteeism rate is defined as the total man-shifts lost because of absences as a percentage of the total number of man-shifts scheduled. For calculating rate of absenteeism we require the number of persons scheduled to work and the number actually present. Thus, we can estimate the rate of absenteeism in the following manner. Rate of Absenteeism = No. of total man-shifts lost X 1005

Chapter I

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No. of man-shift scheduled It has also been made clear in the circular of the Labour Department, Government of India that, if a worker reports for any part of a shift, he should be considered as present. An employee is to be considered scheduled to work when the employer has work available and the employee is aware of it, and when employer has no reason to expect, well in advance, that the employer will not be available for at the specified time. The circular further clarified the application of the above principle with the help of the following example. A worker on a regularly scheduled vacation should not be considered as scheduled lay-off. On the other hand, an employee who request time-off, at other than a regular vacation period , should be considered as absent from the scheduled work until the returns, or until it is determined that the absence will be of such a duration that his name removed from the least of active employees. After this date he should be considered as neither scheduled to work nor absent. Similarly an employee who quits without notice should be considered as absent from scheduled work until his name is dropped from the active list, but preferably this period should not exceed one week in either case. If a strike is in progress workers on strike should be considered as neither scheduled to work nor absent, since data on time lost because of strikes are collected by other means.

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Thus for the purpose of calculating the rate of absenteeism, the term absence has been defined as, the failure of a worker to report for work when he was scheduled to work. A worker is considered to be scheduled to work when the employer has work available for him and the worker is aware of it. Authorized the absence is also treated as absence while presence for a part of the day or shift is treated as presence for the whole day or the shift. Absence on account of strike, lock out or lay of is excluded.1 1.5 Absenteeism Trends in Indian Industry The trends and patterns of absenteeism in Indian industries can be studied by collecting, analyzing and interpreting absenteeism statistics. Certain state government and employees association of Northern India collects these statistics from the various units on important industries on a monthly basis. The Director General of Mine Safety (DGMS) also collects these statistics statutorily from all coalmines. For calculating the rate of absenteeism we require the number of persons scheduled to work and the number of actually present and absence rate as indicating total time-loss due to all reasons whether authorized or unauthorized.1

B. P. Tyagi, Labour Economics and Social Welfare, Jai Prakash Nath & Co., Educational Publishers,

Meerut (UP), Eighth Edition 1999/2000, pp. 63-64

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The studies on absenteeism in India integrated some important trends such as; 1. The rate of absenteeism is the lowest on pay day; it increases considerably on the days following the payment of wages and bonus. 2. Absenteeism is generally high among workers below25 years of age and those above 40. 3. The rate of absenteeism varies from department to department within a unit. 4. The percentage of absenteeism is generally higher in the night shifts than in the day shifts. 5. The percentage of absenteeism is much higher in coal and mica mining industries than in organized industries. 6. Absenteeism in India is seasonal in character. It is the highest during March-April-May, when land has to be prepared for monsoon sowing, and also in the harvest season (September-October), when the rate goes as high as 40 percent. 7. Female workers tend to remain absent more than male workers.8. As the size of the group increases, rate of absenteeism also increases.2

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Dr. C. B. Memoria and S. V. Gankar, Personnel Management Text & Cases, Himalaya Publishing House, New Delhi, Reprint Edition: 2002, pp. 264-265

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1.6 Types of Absenteeism: There are mainly two types of absence. They are; 1. Innocent Absenteeism: Innocent absenteeism refers to employees who are absent for reasons beyond their control; l