pandemic, sick leave, home office, Process Solutions survey
PS compared the data of about 15,000 Hungarian employees of nearly 40 companies between March and September 2020 with those of a year earlier. The research divided the period into three parts, the period of the first wave (March – June), the period of summer holidays (July – August), and the period of starting school (September).
During the whole period under review, from March 2020 to September 2020, the number of absences due to illness decreased by a total of 18%, of which the decrease in sickness benefits due to children’s illness was 43% and in the case of “own right” illness it was 17%:
Number of days
|Total sick leave in own right 2019||
|Absence due to illness of all children 2019||
|Total absences 2019||
|Total sick leave in own right 2020||
|Absence due to illness of all children 2020||
|Total absences 2020||
Within this, it can be observed that the rate of decrease was higher in the first wave (March-June) than in the following period: the rate of own illnesses was 21%, the rate of absence due to illness of children was 57% lower, while in the summer they decrease by 15% and 29% respectively, and in the September period by only 3% and 16% respectively.
Number of days
|Total sick leave in own right 2019 – March – June||
|Absence due to illness of all children 2019 – March – June||
|Total absences 2019 – March – June||
|Total sick leave in own right 2020 – March – June||
|Absence due to illness of all children 2020 – March – June||
|Total absences 2020 – March – June||
Our analysis shows that decline in the IT, telecommunications and financial sectors is outstandingly high compared to the average decline: the number of illnesses in their own right fell from 18,000 to 12,000, and the number of absences due to a child’s illness fell from 1,250 to 575 for the entire period. In these sectors, it is typically easier to work from home, while in retail, both absence rates show even a minimal increase compared to 2019.“
It can be clearly observed that for employees where the majority have the opportunity to work from home (companies employing mostly office workers), the rate of absences has decreased significantly:
- the number of sick leave in their own right decreased from 20,300 to 13,100 (35% decrease)
- absence due to children’s illness fell from 1,300 to 600 (54% decrease).
In both cases, the decrease was most significant in March-June, for example, absence due to a child’s illness showed a decrease of almost 70% for this period, while in September it was almost the same as last year’s data.
Number of days
|Total sick leave in own right 2019 – July – August||
|Absence due to illness of all children 2019 – July – August||
|Total absences 2019 – July – August||
|Total sick leave in own right 2020 – July – August||
|Absence due to illness of all children 2020 – July – August||
|Total absences 2020 – July – August||
Number of days
|Total sick leave in own right 2019 – September||
|Absence due to illness of all children 2019 – September||
|Total absences 2019 – September||
|Total sick leave in own right 2020 – September||
|Absence due to illness of all children 2020 – September||
|Total absences 2020 – September||
However, it is interesting to note that in the case of companies that mostly employ manual workers, where it is typically not possible to work from home, the proportion of sick leave in their own right has stagnated compared to the two years, however, absences due to children’s illness have also decreased significantly by a total of 28% (from 1,000 absences to 720). Within this, we see a 41% decrease in the March-June period (when school closures were ordered by the government), a 31% decrease in the summer period, while the number of absences has already increased by 34% in the September-September period compared to 2019.
Although employees who are unable to work from home cannot stay at home with their child while working during school closures, they have presumably solved childcare with the involvement of the other parent or other assistance, so they took the opportunity of sickness benefits for children in fewer cases.
Although almost all the cost of sickness benefits and childcare benefits are funded by the state, it is also in the employer’s interest for his employees to take as little sick leave as possible, of course only if they are actually able to work.
Our pandemic-relevant blog post series: