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National Employee Absence & Substitute Data

About the Report

This report analyzes data from over 5,000 K-12 organizations using Frontline’s absence and substitute management tool. The available data is so comprehensive that the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University has declared it to be representative of national trends.

The report addresses the following objectives:

  • Increase awareness regarding the number of absences that are professionally related
  • Provide data regarding actual trends in professionally related absences
  • Analyze the degree of common understanding between Human Resources and Curriculum and Instruction personnel regarding the incidence and impact of professionally related absences
  • Suggest strategies for reducing these professionally related absences

Interactive Charts: Where applicable, you can filter data by selecting/un-selecting the axis categories. Hover over charts for more details.

 

 
Absence & Fill Rates

Average number of absences1 per employee

0.42*(August average number of absences per employee)
1.15 (September average number of absences per employee)
1.57 (October average number of absences per employee)
1.45 (November average number of absences per employee)
1.30 (December average number of absences per employee)
 
1.58 (February average number of absences per employee)

  Insight: The average number of employee absences in February has risen to a new high for the school year, driven primarily by absences requiring a substitute. Unfortunately, this has correlated with a decrease in fill rates as well.

1 "Absence” refers to an absence event, where any individual absence counts as one absence, regardless of duration.

Requiring a sub: Includes only absences for individuals in positions where a substitute is required, whether teachers or other employee types, such as bus drivers. Each absence day counts once regardless of duration. For instance, a two-hour absence counts the same as a full-day absence.

Not requiring a sub: Includes only absences for individuals in positions where a substitute is not required. Each absence day counts once regardless of duration. For instance, a two-hour absence counts the same as a full-day absence.


Percentage of absences by reason

Categories marked with an * above are prof. related absences. *The "Other" category for absences may include bereavement, jury duty, military leave, unexcused absences and workers compensation, as well as absences not associated with any reason.

  Insight: Although illness continues to be the driving factor behind the majority of absences, this reason accounted for relatively fewer in February. The drop in illness-related absences is not as stark as one might expect, given the rapid decline in influenza activity as demonstrated below.

Professionally related absences: Absences related to an employee’s regular responsibilities that are directed or approved by the organization (district) or school. Unlike personal absences (illness, bereavement, etc.), the individual’s reasons and dates for being absent are directly controlled or approved by organization- or schoollevel leaders.

- What they include: professional development, field trips, association/ bargaining unit work, school business

- What they do not include: illness, vacation, personal time off, bereavement, jury duty, military leave, unexcused absences, workers’ compensation.


Average fill rate*

  Insight: With more employee absences, but a steady number of substitutes taking jobs, the average fill rate in February has fallen to just above December’s low of 82%.

*Fill rate indicates the percentage of absences requiring a substitute that were in fact filled by a substitute. The percentage is calculated by dividing the number of filled absences by the number of absences that required a substitute.


Fill rate by absence lead time*

  Insight: Low fill rates might be avoidable by increasing the lead time for professionally related absences, which are typically planned weeks in advance. February’s low fill rates may be influenced by short lead times.

*Absence lead time refers to the number of days between when an absence occurs and when it is entered into Frontline Absence & Time. An absence with zero days of lead time is entered on the same day it occurs.


Fill rate by day of week

Show data for:

  Insight: While fill rates have consistently risen during the middle of the week, Mondays and Fridays in February – days with the highest numbers of absences — saw the lowest average fill rates of the academic year.

 
Substitutes

Percentage of non-working substitutes

Show data for:

  Insight: We continue to see a wide disparity in the percent of non-working substitutes when viewed by organization size and locale.

2 Substitute pools refer to the number of substitutes hired to work in the district. When looking at sub pool health, we reviewed how often substitutes are working in the district. We also looked at the correlation between the percentage of non-working substitutes and district fill rates.


Average number of days worked 3 per substitute

  Insight: Fill rates have dropped as the total days worked by active substitutes remained steady, despite an increase in employee absences.

3 “Days worked” represents absences substitutes filled at one district, even if they work at multiple districts.


Average employee to sub ratio

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Average Employee/Sub Ratio
Average teacher/sub ratio by fill rate (counting all subs)
Average teacher/sub ratio by fill rate (counting all subs)
Average teacher/sub ratio by fill rate (counting all subs)
Average teacher/sub ratio by fill rate (counting all subs)
Average teacher/sub ratio by fill rate (counting all subs)
Average teacher/sub ratio by fill rate (counting all subs)
Average teacher/sub ratio by fill rate (counting all subs)

  Insight: Lower employee to substitute ratios generally relate to higher fill rates, and January reflected this trend — unlike December, which had a low employee to substitute ratio and low fill rates.


Average illness related absences

 

CDC Legend


Source for influenza activity data: “Weekly U.S. Influenza Report”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

*Significant dips in the avg # of illnesses corresponds to school vacation times (Thanksgiving and December holiday breaks).

  Insight: The data indicates that illness-related absences are loosely aligned to influenza rates.
 
  Note: Influenza activity, determined by the percent of visits to outpatient healthcare facilities for influenza-like illness, is reported on a weekly basis by the CDC. The national baseline for this metric is 2.2%.

Data Validation

  August September October November December January February
Organizations              
Total # of Orgs 5,284 5,289 5,226 5,232 5,239 5,247 5,220*
               
Employees              
Total Employees 3,011,679 3,012,234 2,956,036 2,967,032 2,973,661 2,985,472 2,982,644
Employees requiring a sub 2,470,027 2,470,545 2,422,130 2,429,739 2,434,432 2,442,958 2,440,174
Employees not requiring a sub 541,652 541,689 533,906 537,293 539,229 542,514 542,470

* The decrease in number of organizations is due to an update (correction) to our reporting logic. This change does not affect any other statistics in the report.