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A recent analysis by Integrated Benefits Institute, a health and productivity business research nonprofit, finds that over the past 22 months, U.S. workers’ pandemic-related absences have cost their employers more than $78.4 billion or nearly $1 billion a week.

IBI’s December analysis factored in sick leave wages and employee benefits, disability wage payments and state disability insurance costs to determine the financial impact. Data came from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and lost workday experiences contained in its own dataset of employer-sponsored disability claims to model lost work time impacts based on total US COVID-19 case counts.

“The true cost of the COVID-19 pandemic to employers is far more than just the expense of workplace sanitization, testing, and masks,” said Joseph Aller, Director, Research and Analytics, IBI. “A holistic view of productivity presents a more accurate overall cost estimation.”

The latest IBI analysis shows a $25 billion increase in employer costs since the nonprofit’s April 2021 analysis and is consistent with average losses approaching $1 billion a week.

“As we continue to adapt and adjust to new challenges including the omicron variant, it’s important now more than ever to look holistically at benefit costs,” said IBI President Kelly McDevitt. “Medical, pharmacy, mental health and wellness costs are critically important, but productivity and presenteeism have become a lynchpin to successful attraction, retention, growth, and satisfaction.”