The percentage of employees marked absent from work has not yet returned to pre-COVID levels in Malta, according to the latest EU statistics.

Long before the pandemic hit, in July to September 2019, the number of absent workers stood at just 0.9 per cent of employees. 

That figure quadrupled to 4.3 per cent in April to June last year as non-essential shops, schools and the airport shut down. But despite most of the restrictions being lifted in May, the absentee rate only recovered to 1.5 per cent between July and September 2020.

As a whole, the EU has returned to pre-COVID-19 levels of absenteeism, according to the Eurostat figures, but the picture remains divided on a member state level.

Around half of 35 countries listed reported a return to normal levels, or an improvement whereas the other half, including Malta, reported higher levels of absenteeism.

As well as EU member states, the UK, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey were included in the survey. 

The statistics also indicate that female employees were hardest hit by the pandemic.

Between the second and the third quarter of 2020, total actual hours worked recovered for women (12.2 per cent) more than for men (8.8 per cent) – something seen across the EU.

This could be a reflection of women reducing their working hours to home-school children.

However, compared to the same quarter last year there was an overall decrease of 3 per cent in total working hours this year. 

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