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Frequent and long-term absence as a risk factor for work disability and job termination among employees in the private sector
  1. Petra C Koopmans (petra.koopmans{at}
  1. ArboNed, Netherlands
    1. Corne AM Roelen (corne.roelen{at}
    1. ArboNed, Netherlands
      1. Johan W Groothoff (j.w.groothoff{at}
      1. University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Netherlands


        Objectives Frequent and long-term absentees were monitored over 5 years with regard to the risk of work disability and job termination. Methods Prospective longitudinal cohort study in 53,990 employees of Dutch postal and telecommunications companies. In the first year of study, we distinguished workers who were absent four times or more (frequent absentees; n = 4126), 6 weeks or more (long-term absentees; n = 3585), combined frequent and long-term absent workers (n = 979), and a reference population consisting of 45,300 employees. The disability rate (defined as the number of employees who became absent more than one year per 100 employee years) and the risk of job termination were followed-up for 4 years. Results In the reference population, women had a higher disability rate (2.2 per 100 employee years) than men (0.8 per 100 employee years). Frequent absentees had a disability rate amounting to 2.5 per 100 employee years in men and 4.2 per 100 employee years in women. Long-term absentees had a disability rate of 6.7 per 100 employee years in men and 9.1 per 100 employee years in women. Combined frequent and long-term absentees had an even higher disability rate. The risk of terminating employment (involuntarily) was higher in prior absentees as compared to the reference population (RR=1.2-2.1 for job termination and RR=1.5-2.5 for involuntary job termination). In men, absence due to neoplasms, mental disorders, and respiratory disorders were associated with an increased disability risk as compared to musculoskeletal disorders. Neoplasms and mental disorders were also associated with a higher risk of job termination in men, whereas infectious and neurological diseases were associated with a higher risk of job termination in women Conclusions Prior frequent and/or long-term absentees show high work disability in a four-year follow-up period. Moreover, they are at higher risk of (involuntary) job termination.

        • absence
        • job termination
        • longitudinal study
        • risk groups
        • work disability

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