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Employee absences due to illness hit an eight-year record high in January, according to data from auditing firm HPS.

The review, based on pay slips of 20,000 employees from various industries, indicated that men were absent more often than women in January, against the trend of recent years where women have missed more work than men, in part because they care for sick children.

The group of employees most often absent from work in January was men between the ages of 30 and 40.

HPS CEO Abie Meir said that damage to the economy as a result of the flu alone, which has affected many workers, has reached NIS 0.5 billion (from 1.5 million lost work days). The unprecedented absenteeism is due to the lack of flu vaccines and unprecedented rate of winter illnesses among children, which kept parents home as a result.