News

February 10, 2012 - Anonymous

Staff only dare skive one day during the downturn

More than 400,000 employees are believed to have taken a day off work on 6 February, dubbed ‘National Sickie Day’, according to law firm ELAS.

The combination of wintry weather, commuting to and from work in the dark, Christmas credit card bills and a long wait until the next holiday made Monday 6 February the day that staff were most likely to skive, said ELAS, which estimated the cost to British business to be £34 million in lost output and reduced productivity.

However, ELAS head of employment law, Peter Mooney, said that fake sickness days were now generally on the decline as workers were too nervous to take time off during the downturn. He added that they wouldn’t typically risk more than one day off.

“An unofficial day off work is one perk many people feel they’re entitled to from time to time. (And) there has always been a sizeable number of skivers who, having phoned in sick once, award themselves a second day to make their illness look more believable,” he said.

“But in the past 12 months, a combination of the stuttering economy and managers finally grasping the nettle over absenteeism has seen that particular trend end. While the number of people suspected of throwing sickies continues to grow steadily, the length of time they’re off work is falling,” added Mooney.

Tim Coates, managing director of small publishing firm EPC, which employs nine staff, said he believed employees were “keen not to look lazy in the current climate”. “Our sickness rates have dropped dramatically in the past two years,” he said.

“I see it as a loyalty issue – we’re a small company so everyone is close to the coal face and we all know how tough it is out there at the moment. Most of our staff have been with us for a number of years and I think they’d feel dishonest about pulling a sickie.”

Around 11 million employees in the UK take sickness leave each year, according to the NHS, while sickness absence typically costs a small business around £700 a year for each employee, according to figures from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.