Shifting Perceptions: Absenteeism
Thursday, July 25, 2013
At Champions, we are often solicited by employers who would like more information about hiring and retaining persons with disabilities in their respective workplaces. When working with various employers we generally like to start by addressing many misconceptions that exist about persons with disabilities. Education and awareness can often go a long way to removing stigma and discrimination and can be part of promoting greater participation of persons with with disabilities in the workplace.
For the next couple of weeks we are going to do a series of posts on this blog titled Shifting Perceptions. In these posts we will discuss many of the myths and misconceptions which exist and hopefully paint a truer picture of the reality of including persons with disabilities in the workplace.
Today's Myth: Absenteeism
If I hire an employee with a disability they will have a higher absentee rate than employees without
Fact: Studies have repeatedly shown that employees with disabilities are not absent any more than employees without disabilities. Many studies have shown a different trend - that individuals with disabilities have better attendance rates - and often stay with an employer longer - than their non-disabled counterparts.
The primary study on this topic was conducted by Du Pont in the early 1970's. In this study, 1,452 employees of Du Pont, including individuals with such disabilities as blindness, heart disease, vision impairment, amputation, epilepsy, paralysis, and hearing impairments were evaluated for performance and work attendance.
The key findings for workers with disabilities (compared to workers without disabilities) were:
- No lost time due to disabling injuries
- Job stability: average or better
- Special privileges: none.
- Attendance: 79% were average or better
- Job performance: 91% were average or better
Du Pont repeated this study two more times over the following 20 years with nearly identical results.
Similar findings have been reported over and over again in the 30 years since the initial Du Pont study. Pizza Hut has reported that their annual turnover rate among non-disabled employees is about 150%, whereas the annual turnover rate for their employees with disabilities is less than 20%. In 2002, an Australian study of 800 employers found that employees with disabilities have lower levels of absenteeism and use less sick leave than their colleagues without disability.The costs to business of absenteeism and sick leave for employees with disability can be as low as 34 per cent of the cost incurred by their colleagues.