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Dutch sickness absence rates at all-time low05 April 2014, by Alexandra Gowling
The number of Dutch people calling in sick to their work is currently at its lowest level since measurement first started in 1996.
According to new figures released by the Dutch national statistics office CBS, the sickness absence rate among employees in the Netherlands was down to 3,9 per cent in 2013.
That is, at any one time, 39 in every thousand employees were home sick.
Sickness rates over the last 15 years
The sickness absence rate has been dropping for the last two years, after having stabilised at around 4,1 per cent from 2004 to 2011. The highest recorded figure was between 1999 and 2002, with around 5,5 per cent.
The drop in rates after this time is due to the introduction of the Gatekeeper Improvement Act in 2002, which obliged employers to closely monitor the sickness absence process and help sick employees to come back to work.
In respect to the more recent drop, CBS makes possible correlation with the impact of the economic crisis and the increased difficulty of finding a job in the Netherlands.
Sickness rates higher in large companies
The sickness absence rate tends to be higher in large companies and organisations with over a hundred staff had sickness absence rates of 4,7 per cent.
This is compared to 3,4 per cent in companies with 10 to 99 employees and a much smaller 1,6 per cent for companies with less than 10 employees.
While sickness rates have declined in all types of companies, since 2001 the rate declined most in large companies, by 2,4 per cent, as opposed to 1,3 per cent for smaller companies.
Fewer absences in hospitality sector
The lowest rate in absence due to illness is in the hospitality sector, where is it just 2,2 per cent. CBS explains this as being partly due to the fact that there are many small businesses in this sector and hospitality has the average lowest age. Absence due to sickness tends to increase as people grow older.
Sectors where absence rates were much higher included water and waste management and public administration, in which companies are typically much larger.
Dutch sickness absence rates are some of the highest in Europe, according to another study from 2010.