Increased Wages & Less Working Hours Due to Absenteeism

January 13, 2023


A new report published by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce found that although employment is up more than 3% since the beginning of the pandemic, working hours have only increased by 1.75% due to higher levels of absenteeism.


When compared to pre-pandemic years, wage costs are estimated to have increased from 0.5% to 0.9% as a result of paid leave. The report also noted more than 0.4 more hours per employee were lost in the fourth quarter of 2022. This is up from 0.2 extra hours of an illness or family-related absence in 2021.


Absenteeism due to sick days also rose, alongside workers using more vacation days when compared to the first two years of the pandemic. Although the unemployment rate is merely 5%, the loss in hours is equivalent to a roughly 6% unemployment rate pre-pandemic.


This trend doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon and is expected to continue throughout winter and in sectors where work cannot be done at home. This includes education, construction, and manufacturing, which will likely be disproportionately impacted.


When combined, the additional hours being lost in comparison to pre-pandemic norms, is equivalent to needing approximately 175,000 additional staff. The report stated that “If vacation time wasn’t still running below pre-pandemic norms, lost hours due to sickness and family needs alone would be equivalent to requiring around 230,000 additional employees.”.