Employees “Pulling A Sickie” Are Costing The UK Economy £900m

42% of workers who decide to feign illness do so because they feel too tired to go to work

Employees “Pulling A Sickie” Are Costing The UK Economy £900m

UK employees who “pull a sickie” are costing the country’s economy £900m every year, according to a report by breatheHR.

The survey of 1,002 UK workers and 504 business owners has revealed that 15% of all workers feign illness at least once a year – with 42% of these fakers doing so just because they feel too tired to go to work – while 19% to do to avoid a certain situation, such as a client meeting.

Surprisingly, just 46% of those surveyed admit to actually using up all of their holiday allowance, with businesses losing more than 7.5 million working days a year due to impromptu sick leave – which when based on the average UK salary of £27,000, has a combined value of £900m.

When it comes to business owners’ attitude to sick employees, 71% admit they would still expect someone to come to work if they had the common cold – with 51% confessing they have contacted an employee while they were ill.

An important consideration for business owners, 85% say they are aware of how employee leave impacts bottom line and try and reduce it where possible.

Jonathan Richards, CEO at breatheHR, said:

“We’re facing a costly absence epidemic. At a time when the government is attempting to decipher the ‘productivity puzzle’, over two million people are calling in sick when they are in fact not. Imagine if that number was halved, what uptick in economic performance would that deliver to the UK economy and small businesses?

The results are striking for how contradictory we are as people: employees aren’t taking their full holiday allowance but then phone in sick in order to have a ‘rest day’, and then check emails avidly. Unintentionally managers at small businesses are creating a culture where it is expected that employees are always available. So, what does this all mean for productivity?

“Business owners need to consider how their behaviour impacts others. Just because you’re happy to be contacted on holiday, doesn’t mean that should become the established norm. The impact is snowballing – again leading to absence in the form of preventable sickness – which costs business in terms of needing to invest both in cover and productivity.”

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