The term absenteeism is used to describe a pattern of absence from the workplace or any other form of commitment.  Absenteeism may be an indicator of a serious medical or psychological condition, or it may indicate a lack of commitment to an employer or job.


While absenteeism was historically believed to be an indicator of a poor performing employee, it can also be associated with a chronic illness, or the inability of an individual to adjust to workplace norms.  Employers, as well as the state and federal government, often provide employees with compensation when they are absent from work.  These programs are considered employee "benefits" and include sick days, workers compensation, state illness plans, and benefits under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Absenteeism is often closely tracked by employers, since the employee may be getting paid, but not adding to the company's productivity or output.  If an employee exhibits what the company's management team believes is an ongoing abuse of the company's absence / attendance policy, they may take action against the employee.  Actions taken by management can range from simple oral and written reminders through termination.

Employers do not consider employee benefits such as paid vacation and holidays when evaluating an individual's absenteeism performance.

Related Terms

benefits, gap insurance, beneficiaryCOBRA, employee engagement, excused absence