Background/aims: There has been significant concern in recent years regarding increases in absenteeism in the healthcare sector, leading to lost productivity and projected workforce shortages. This study aimed to identify patterns of sickness absence over a 10-year period in a single-site secondary hospital in Melbourne, Australia.

Methods: Data regarding sickness absences were extracted from anonymised payroll records from 2007 to 2016. The patterns of sickness absence analysed included seasonality, amount of leave and category of leave. These were explored both for individuals and in the aggregate.

Results: Compared to the Australian average of 9.7 days, this cohort of employees took less sick leave, averaging at 8.81 days each. As a group, a consistent proportion of staff took no sick leave, 1–3 days, 4–6 days, or 7–9 days each year in the 10-year timespan. Only a small proportion took more than 9 days of sickness leave per year.

Conclusions: The pattern of leave-taking was consistent for the group as a whole, however, individual leave patterns vary.


absenteeism, health services administration, presenteeism, sick leave, workforce

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