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Pulling a sickie today? You won’t be alone!

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Today is, of all things, National Sickie Day – the first Monday in February, which sees more people phoning in sick in the UK than any other day in the year.

It sounds like a joke but in fact it is a recognised phenomenon. There are two main reasons why today, out of all the days of the year, marks the highest absenteeism due to illness:

  1. It’s the first Monday back after the end of January, the month when many people abstain from drinking. In other words, people aren’t ill they are in bed nursing hangovers
  2. For many, the end of January is the first pay day after the Christmas period, and people are likely to go out (see above!)

Often cited is a third reason, which interests us as a recruitment company: it’s claimed that a quarter of all of February’s job interviews take place on this day. So if any of your team call in sick, they may actually be off to a job interview! Now that is food for thought…

Bizarre excuses given for crying off work

Of course, not everybody who absents themselves from work gives being ill as a reason. Employment law specialists ELAS commissioned a poll of 1,500 people and here were the more unusual excuses:

  • My only pair of work trousers is in the wash
  • It’s my dog’s birthday and I need to arrange a party for him
  • The dog ate my shoes
  • I got arrested
  • I lost my PPE
  • I stayed out partying last night and haven’t had any sleep
  • My friend is on annual leave so I can’t get a lift
  • I have no way to get to work
  • My wife earns more than me so I have to look after the kids

But for those who did use sickness as an excuse, here are the main ones they opted for:

1. Sick or migraine (30%)

2. ‘Illness’ (12%)

3. Stomach bug or diarrhoea (6%)

4. Flu/cold (6%)

5. Blaming a relative/children (5%)

6. Food poisoning (3%)

7. Death or a funeral (2%)

Effect of absenteeism on the workplace

We started this blog a little tongue in cheek, but of course there is a serious side to absenteeism due to illness.

Some illnesses might be symptoms of a more deep-seated condition, such as a mental health issue – far easier for someone to say they have a cold than they have depression. The Department of Health advises that one in four of us will experience mental ill health at some point in our lives. It is therefore important that employers and their staff take steps to promote positive mental health and support those experiencing mental ill health.

There is also a significant cost to the economy from abesenteeism. According to the Centre of Economic and Business Research, the cost to the economy in 2017 was £18bn. This is part of an increasing trend that has seen workplace absence increase year-on-year since 2011, having previously been on a downward trend since 1993. As a result, the CEBR predicts that the cost of absences will increase to £21bn in 2020, and increase to £26bn in 2030.

So employers beware: absenteeism is increasing, not just on National Sickie Day, and there are surely some steps that can be taken to help reduce this.

An estimated 350,000 people rang in sick on National Sickie Day last year, we wonder how many will this year?

Companies and society as a whole need to do more in terms of talking about what is causing this absenteeism for a large number of people every single day. We need to ask staff, are they happy? If not, what can we do make them happier?

It’s known that happier staff make for a happier and more produtive workplace and with a marked reduction in absenteeism.

If you’re an employee, however, casting around for a new role, and are tempted to phone in sick today, why not pick up the phone to the 24-7 Staffing team instead? We have a wide range of vacancies, particularly in the driving, commercial, healthcare and industrial sectors which could be just what you are looking for.

You can reach the team on 0800 7830247 or get in touch here.

Melody picture

Published by Melody

4 months ago

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