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Absence levels predicted to be lower on Blue Monday than in previous years

Today is known as 'Blue Monday' and is seen as the most depressing day of the year with experts predicting higher than average absence rates.

But with a 38% increase in the number of people working on this date in 2009 compared with 2008, absence management services provider FirstCare believes this year Blue Monday may be miserable but employees may not be quite so absent.

And as the economic climate remains difficult, FirstCare's experts predict lower absence rates again today than those reported in January 2009.

Aaron Ross, chief executive of FirstCare, comments: "Thanks to a combination of depressing events in January - wintry weather, credit card bills from the Christmas splurge, and pay day feeling like months away - Blue Monday has been described as the most depressive day of the year with absence rates expected to be higher on this date.

"But, our research shows a large decrease in the number of employees logging absences on Blue Monday in 2009 compared with 2008, meaning more employees made it into work. This is not necessarily because Blue Monday is any less miserable but could be down to the impact of the recession, with more employees now anxious about job security and therefore reluctant to take time of work unnecessarily. Because of this, and with the recession continuing, I expect absence rates today to be similar to last year, if not lower."

FirstCare's analysis of its absence data over the past three years also shows absence on Blue Monday is not actually a lot different from other Mondays in January. But greater absence was seen in both the first week of January and, more interestingly, in the week prior to Blue Monday.

Ross added: "With absenteeism costing significant amounts of money, we would advise employers to show their support to employees in January. As the downturn continues and cut backs need to be made, we urge businesses to communicate any wellbeing initiatives available to their staff which may help support them through difficult times and reduce absenteeism."