absenteeism of bus drivers, consequence of “mistreated work”

11.9%: this is the increase in the volume of daily sickness benefits per employee (from the general scheme, excluding maternity), between the first quarter of 2010 and the fourth quarter of 2019. The benefits paid for accidents at work and occupational diseases (ATMP) increased by 16.5% over the same period.

A subject of tension at the political level as well as in social dialogue within companies, absenteeism is the subject of debate as to its root causes.

The profession of bus driver is one of those who suffer the most from this increase in absences, and stereotypes about their reasons. This is underlined by the contribution of Damien Cartron and Philippe Askenazy for the scientific mediation project “What do we know about work? », from the Interdisciplinary Laboratory for the Evaluation of Public Policies (Liepp), distributed in collaboration with the Liepp and Presses de Sciences Po on the job channel of Lemonde.fr.

For the researchers, the absenteeism of transport drivers (urban transport drivers in particular) and the loss of attractiveness of the sector are above all due to a continuous deterioration in working conditions: despite improvements in comfort, traffic has become more complex ( bicycles, speed bumps, delivery vehicles parked in an anarchic manner), and requires permanent movements, which generate musculoskeletal disorders. Psychosocial risks are also exploding: having to report to their employer, the principal (often a community) and the customers, they face contradictory prescriptions.

In addition to customer management, road users are also managed. Both populations can be sources of incivility and loss of time in relation to the schedule that the driver must scrupulously respect.

Indeed, the requirements are high: compliance with the departure time is one of the many quality criteria controlled by the contracting authorities, and new technologies promote the monitoring of vehicles in real time. This results in shortened and degraded breaks (especially meals).

Poor work organization

Secondly, Philippe Askenazy and Damien Cartron examine the managerial response to rising absenteeism, which they do not consider appropriate. Indeed, management tends to point the finger at individual behavior, without questioning a faulty organization of work: the authors cite in particular the introduction in the fall of 2022 of bonuses for RATP drivers who would not have had an absence.

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