The Covid-19 peak in June is responsible once again for the increase in absenteeism

In June, the average absenteeism rate in the Netherlands increased to 4.4% (compared to 4.3% in May 2022). This increase was almost solely caused by the Covid-19 peak in June. According to our figures, from the beginning until the middle of June the number of absenteeism cases due to Covid-19 increased substantially. Although the summer peak is behind us, as the National Institute for Public Health and Environmental Protection (Dutch: RIVM) reported this week, we are calling upon companies to prevent infections at workplaces.

No longer a seasonal trend

Due to the increase in Covid-19 cases, the absenteeism rate in all sectors is higher than before the pandemic. This is a sharp contrast compared to the month of May when most of the sectors returned to the pre-pandemic rates of 2019. Since the outbreak of Covid-19, each year in the month of June we have witnessed a departure from the seasonal trend. “Under normal circumstances, absenteeism rates decrease in June, because this is when the summer holidays begin. However, this is the third consecutive year in which the number of received absenteeism reports has increased in June as the result of Covid-19,” says Jurriaan Penders, medical officer and director of medical affairs at HumanCapitalCare.

Covid-19 increase hits harder in companies with high absenteeism

In line with previous figures, also this month, absenteeism rates were lower in SMEs—companies with less than 200 employees—than in large companies, namely only 4%. In large companies, the absenteeism rate increased from 4.8% in May 2022 to 5%. However, there are huge differences between these large companies, with outliers in both directions. This means that an additional increase in the absenteeism rates hits harder in companies in which pressure is already high.

Remain attentive to Covid-19 measures

The question is how Covid-19 infections—and as a result, absenteeism due to Covid-19—will continue to develop during the summer and in particular after the summer. According to the RIVM, the summer peak is over. “However, a Covid-19 peak in the autumn is very likely. It is important for the continuity of companies that employers discuss with employees how to prepare for this peak. In other words, draw upon previous experiences with Covid-19,” says Penders.
One out of four employees who report sick due to Covid-19 suspects that the workplace was the source of infection. Employers and employees have a shared responsibility to prevent this. “Therefore, you should continue to be attentive to the basic rules, such as washing your hands, keeping distance and ensuring sufficient fresh air,” Penders continues. “If you are experiencing any symptoms, stay home and immediately test yourself. You can return to work once you test negative for Covid-19. Working from home, if this is possible, also prevents infections at the workplace. Especially now, it is important to talk about Covid-19, the measures and what this means for employees.”