This article investigates whether past absence behaviour is a predictor of present absence duration in a large Danish municipality with 17,499 individuals observed from 1996 to 2004. Past absence behaviour is measured in both absence days and absence spells. The article also investigates a number of confounders such as gender, age, seniority, wage, contracted number of work hours and season. The results of the empirical study show that there is a significant positive relationship between employees' absence duration and past absence spells and past absence days, respectively. The study thus confirms that past days and past spells have an equal potential of predicting present absent. Past absence behaviour can thus be used as an early warning for managers. The study also confirms that personal characteristics such as age and seniority also influence absence duration. Moreover, job characteristics such as wage and contracted number of work hours also influence absence duration. Finally, the season of the year seems to influence absence duration.
International Journal of Human Resource Management, 2014, Vol 25, Issue 9, p. 1267-1280
Absence duration; Job charateristics; Past absence; Personal characteristics; Public organization