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70,000 employees took a day off for Barbenheimer

HR technology software BrightHR used absence data to find the top employee absence trends in 2023

What do doomsday, a newly crowned monarch, Snoop Dogg and Barbenheimer all have in common? They coincided with some of the biggest spikes in unplanned absence, lateness and sickness in the UK’s workplaces.

Absence data has revealed 70,198 employees took a day off on 21 July, when Barbie and Oppenheimer premiered.

Read more: What's the evidence for... absence management?

HR technology software BrightHR used absence data from 1.3 million employees to find the top employee absence trends in 2023.

Alan Price, CEO of BrightHR, said: “Even though these findings may appear lighthearted and enjoyable, they demonstrate the significance of effective people management in the workplace. In the long run, it can ensure employers stay on top of staffing levels but it also enables any trends to be identified and explored.

“Having eyes on employees’ whereabouts and their absence, sickness and lateness patterns helps you as a manager make better, more-informed decisions to support them, and to remain productive.”

These were the top absence trends in 2023.


1. Strikes

Train strikes contributed to a spike in lateness, which is up by 76% since 2021.


2. Storms and sun

Storm Debi on 13 November caused employees to be 35 minutes late on average.

The record-breaking high temperatures in September also coincided with a surge of 48% in annual leave requests.


3. The Lionesses

When England’s women’s team reached the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup on Sunday 20 August, there was a 48% jump in annual leave the following day.


4. God save the King

King Charles III was coronated and the UK received an extra bank holiday on Monday 8 May. Sickness rates reached a high on the following Tuesday, with 54% more people off than on an average Tuesday.


5. Cinema

The data found 70,198 employees took a day off on 21 July for the Barbeneheimer premieres.


6. Music

Headliner music event of the year, Glastonbury, was the reason for 2,625 absences, while 202 more took a day off to see Beyonce, 140 for Lewis Capaldi, 56 for Snoop Dogg and 67 to secure Taylor Swift tickets.


7. Doomsday

Tuesday 24 January 2023 was marked by some conspiracy theorists as the day the world was supposed to end. Luckily the earth still spins, but there was a 75% jump in sickness absences that day, compared with the average Tuesday in 2023.

BrightHR found multiple mentions of ‘doomed’ and ‘doomsday’ in its absence management software, and in one instance ‘we are all doomed!’


Read more: Managing recurring sickness absence