PwC surveyed over 2,000 UK workers and found that the most common reasons for pulling a 'sickie' are:
- Hangovers (32%),
- Boredom with job (26%),
- Interviews (26%),
- Mondays (11%),
- Good weather (10%),
- To watch a sporting event (8%).
The survey found that the most common excuse used by workers for unauthorised absences is illness. However, some of the more unusual excuses include being attacked by ants, a rash from eating too many strawberries and a male employee telling his boss he had started the menopause.
The total cost of sickness in the UK has fallen from £29 billion to £23 billion in the past year (this includes genuine and non-genuine sickness). Although this is a positive shift British workers still take almost triple the amount of sick days as workers in Asia Pacific (2.8 days) and nearly double the amount of sick days as workers in the US (3.8).
The practice of employees taking false sick days is a real problem for businesses and this report reinforces the fact that proactive measures should be taken to address it.
There are a number of steps that can be taken to help manage the issue and hopefully reduce absences as a result. If absenteeism is a problem for your organisation then it is important to consider issues such as:-
- Management reporting – e.g. cost of absence, lost time rate, Bradford factor
- Ensure that absence figures are circulated to the relevant people within the organisation
- Be clear who is responsible for absence management – HR or Employee’s manager or someone else?
- Be proactive in dealing with any issues and do not delay
- Return to work interviews
- Formal procedure and formal warnings where appropriate
- Be aware of any underlying disability issues
One interesting point from the PwC survey is that a tenth of employees would be put off from pulling a 'sickie' if they had to phone their manager personally to report the reason for their absence. Many employers already require this but, if you don't, then you might want to think about introducing this.
For more sickness absence statistics see -