Absenteeism In Britain

Labour market is considered to be the market that is related with demand and supply or labour/workforce. In addition, in labour market the supply is provided by the workforce while demand is made by the employer/business concerns. It was stated by Ehrenberg and Smith (2016) that employers’ demand for labour increases during peak seasons when demand for product and services is high. Phenomenon of absenteeism is present in British labour market that causes problems for companies, individuals as well as entire economy (Johnson and Zimmermann, 2008). There can be different reasons behind labour absenteeism. Many researchers have conducted studies to find out the main reason for absenteeism of labour force. In this case study, the impact of working environment and conditions on absenteeism in Britain is evaluated with the help of labour economic theory, literature review and critical analysis. This case study is based on secondary methods where journal articles and books are used.


Researchers have proposed different theories as well as models and frameworks to understand different factors present in the labour market and their impact on labour force (Sloane et al., 2013). Among all theories, labour economics theory is of great importance. The labour economics theory focuses on the economic behaviour of employees and workers against changes in prices, working conditions as well as wages (Krugman, 2008). On the basis of this theory, it can be understood that how the changes in working conditions influence the labour absenteeism in Britain. It was stated by List and Rasul (2011), that the labour economics theory focuses on the behaviour and attitude of employers and workers against various factors including wages, prices, revenue as well as non-pecuniary characteristics of the employment association, including working conditions and environment. Labour theory focuses on each and every aspect on the basis of which labour decisions to work are based. It was stated by Laing (2011), thatthe occupational choice is made by labour on the basis of incentives and wages provided to them.Labour economics theory analyses the impact of different regulations, policies, wage rates, working conditions, benefits, incentives, health and safety issues prevailing in the labour market and their impact on the labour’s productivity (Camerer et al., 2011). With the help of this theory and literature, the impact of bad working conditions on the absenteeism of labour in Britain can be easily understood.


There are different researchers that have conducted researches and studies to understand the labour market. In this section, past researches and studies relevant to the impact of working conditions on labour absenteeism will be studied. It is important to understand the correct meanings of absenteeism. In the view of Wilkinson (2013),the absenteeism is considered to be a phenomenon of non-attendance at workplace by a worker when attendance is anticipated by the manager. In addition, absenteeism can have negative impact on productivity and performance of business concerns. It is quite important to understand the reasons behind absenteeism by the employer. In 1970s, the neo-classical labour supply model was introduced which states that the worker gets absent from work due to difference between contractual and desired working hours (Hyclak et al., 2013). It was also discussed in this model that if the contractual hours of worker are increased then the propensity to be absent also increases. As per perspective of Ackermann and Audretsch (2013), various labour market forces including wage compensations, unfavourable working conditions as well as unhealthy and unsafe working environments lead towards absenteeism of labour. In the view of McConnell et al., (2013) the working conditions provided to the labour force have an impact on their productivity. In addition, the working hours and work load exerted to the labour force can also affect their productivity and irregular working hours can lead towards high absenteeism rate.  It was stated by Jones (2009) that the bad working conditions have a severe impact on the workers’ behaviour towards performing roles and duties, and lead towards employee dissatisfaction. As per study ofCaverley et al., (2007) the labour/workers should focus on economic approach and they should invest in their health for reducing their personal depreciation. In addition, it was also found out that bad working conditions lead towards high human capital depreciation with the passage of time. It was mentioned by Langley et al., (2010) in his study that the basic reason behind absenteeism of labour force is health issues and these type of issue arise from poor working conditions offered to them. The major health issues faced by labour in UK are musculoskeletal issues, back pain as well as injuries, respiratory issues and syndromes including repetitive strain injury. All of these issues occur due to poor hygienic working conditions offered to workers. One of the study conducted byStaufenbiel and König (2010) shows that high level of noise pollution in working area, heavy lifting of raw material as well as poor working postures along with high intensity of repetitious work are included in bad working conditions and a source of labour absenteeism. These researches show that the labour market conditions and working environment have a relationship with the absenteeism. Different reasons are identified by scholars for labour absenteeism but in this case study, the emphasis will be given to working conditions and working environment, and how they affect the absenteeism.

3.Critical analysis

In this section, critical analysis of the issues is conducted with the help of literature studied and labour economics theory. It is evaluated that how the working conditions provided by employers to the labours can impact the absenteeism. It is evaluated that either the bad working conditions provided by employers to their labour can increase the labours’ absenteeism rate or not. It is also discussed that how employer can decrease or control the absenteeism rate of labour force. It was stated by Datta et al., (2010) that in UK, there are different types of disadvantages related with labour absenteeism and employers should make strategies to control the unscheduled absences of labour force. In addition, due to absenteeism of labour, the organisational productivity and performance is negatively impacted. That is why, employers have to maintain the excess staff, focus on overtime, or hire another labour as a substitute, this increasing the organisational labour cost. It was mentioned byIchino and Riphahn (2005) that the major sources of employee absenteeism are poor working conditions, too much work load and low wages. In addition, these issue not only lead towards absenteeism but may lead towards high turnover. The employers and companies in Britain should focus on different strategies to improve working conditions for labour to reduce the absenteeism rate. Labour surveys should be conducted to understand the needs of labour force. It was mentioned by Reason (2016) that the poor working conditions are not only reason behind high labour’ absenteeism rate in UK but it can lead towards on the job injuries, accidents occurring due to slipping, collisions, poor machinery and tool. This indicates that the labour force in UK are prone to different risk, hazards and danger. Government and employers should take collective steps to improve the working conditions for labour in Britain. It was mentioned byLingard and Rowlinson (2005), that the companies that provide poor working conditions to the labour force experience high levels of injuries as well ashigh absenteeism rate, low productivity and less profitability. In addition, the poor working conditions can lead towardssickness, that ultimately becomes enduring, with the subsequentreduction in labour’s output. In addition, these issues make labours unable to maintain work life balance. The employers and companies in Britain need to understand the requirements of labour force for healthy environment and safe working conditions. However, there are different other ways of controlling absenteeism rate in the labour market of Britain. These include increments in wages, bonuses and less working hours. But on the other hand, these motivational techniques cannot fully satisfy the labour force and they will seek for better working conditions. That is why, the employer should take steps for providing relaxed working environment. The manager can play an important role in making working environment relaxed for labours by showing friendly behaviour, by catering the needs of labour force and by providing paid leaves. It was stated by Davidov (2009) that labour force in UK is paid on hourly basis and deductions are made against absenteeism. This lead towards demotivation and dissatisfaction. Instead of this approach, labour force should be given paid leaves against solid reasons. The labour force in UK has to work under severe conditions in some sectors including construction, pharmaceutical companies, gas and oil refining companies as well as engineering companies in which they are prone to dangerous gases/material/substances that cause cancer and dangerous diseases. In such type of sectors, it is important for employer to provide proper trainings to labour force and to provide cautionary tools including masks, gloves, helmets or other items. In this way, the labour will be quite safe and absenteeism rate will eventually go down. Moreover, both monetary and non-monetary rewards should be offered to labours for controlling the absenteeism rate in Britain. It was emphasised by Borjas (2013),that poor working conditions and environment provided to the labours in Britain are not the direct cause of absenteeism but these have a negative influence on the health of labours, and ultimately the labour gets absent. In this study, the main emphasis was made on sickness caused by the manual work done by males at the work with irregular schedules and proper planning. This indicates that the male labour force has to perform tough jobs that can cause them ill and they get absent from the work. This is an important issue and must be resolved by the employer by making effective strategies. For example, making the proper schedules for work, designing proper timetables, reducing work load and rotating the labour force. The labour should not be given same hard and tough job on daily basis and should be given relaxation time on work. This can be a useful strategy in reducing the absenteeism rate of labour force in Britain. Moreover, health insurance and allowances should be given to labour so that they will remain fit and healthy for performing tough labour jobs.


On the basis of labour economics theory, literature review and critical analysis, it is concluded that phenomenon of absenteeism is present in British labour market that causes problems for companies, individuals as well as entire economy. There can be different reasons behind labour absenteeismand one of the main reason of labour absenteeism in Britain is poor working condition and environment. The employers should take corrective measures for reducing the absenteeism rate and should provide healthy working conditions. It is also concluded that there are several other factors prevailing in UK’s labour market that lead towards absenteeism. These include attitude of employer, wage rate as well as different occupational choices. Employers in UK can retain labour force and control absenteeism by focusing on both monetary and non-monetary rewards.


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