A Quarter of Workers Admit to Taking Sickies

More than a quarter of UK workers admit that they pretend to be ill and pull a "sickie" according to the latest research from the Chartered Institute of Personal and Development (CIPD).

Reported in the CIPD’s annual Absence Management survey, a poll of nearly 2,000 employees, the worst offenders for skiving off when they were not actually ill were in the retail sector with 39% of shop staff admitting as such.

In the sales & marketing sector, 33% of staff "bunked off" and in customer service jobs that figure was 28%

At the other end of the scale were staff in recruitment and HR roles – only 11% admitted to pretending to be ill.

The reasons for the UK workforce taking days off when they were not genuinely ill included being off for having hangovers (27%), going shopping instead of working (19%), other appointments (17%) and planned non-work activities such as days out (15%).

Flexible Working Reduces Sickies

In 2012 the number of "sick days" that staff were taking actually went down but the latest figures indicate a rise again.

The current figure indicates that each employee takes on average 7.6 days off due to illness, genuine or otherwise. That changes with public services sector workers who take off 8.7 days per year and lowest in manufacturing and production with just 6 days off per employee per year.

Interestingly, the report also found that absenteeism increased with the size of the employer, no matter what industrial sector they were in.

Last year’s dip may be due to members of the workforce fearing for their jobs during the downturn and data from law firm ELAS showed that many employees only risked skiving off for one day.

However, employers have increasingly worked to reduce the levels of absenteeism and a number of methods have seen success.

The CIPD has reported that firms who modified working patterns saw a benefit to their business in 70% of cases, usually through increased employee motivation and engagement.

As well as considering flexible hours for staff, employers are also being advised to monitor absence by recording the sick days of workers and maybe even conducting a "back to work" interview.

The cost of "pulling a sickie" to British industry amounts to millions of pounds worth of lost production and lost hours every day and other causes of unauthorised absence have included everything from good weather to the launch of video games.

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If you’d like to reduce absenteeism at your business then you might want to consider The Need for Employee Engagement or read our business advice on Motivating your workforce.

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