Employees taking fake sick days ‘to rest’

Employees taking fake sick days ‘to rest’

A report has shown that one in seven SME employees makes bogus excuses to take days off – including faking illness –which works out at a huge 2,512,00

A report has shown that one in seven SME employees makes bogus excuses to take days off – including faking illness –which works out at a huge 2,512,000 people who bunked off work in the last year. We presume, not on the same day.

But instead of relishing with glee at their ill-gotten day off by spending it in bed, or at the shopping centre, or roaming the house in their undercrackers, employees are still checking email (20%), being called by their boss (50%) – or a scary 72% if the boss is under 34, and feeling guilty about the whole situation.

Why don’t they just take a holiday?

It’s not an annual leave problem – in fact, 46% of employees don’t even use all their annual leave – but instead, a stress and culture problem.

The report shows that there are a huge amount of reasons an employee would choose to make a phone call and announce themselves ‘sick’ with a huge 42% that stated that they did so for a ‘rest day’ and 19% who wanted to avoid stress at work.

There are the usual suspects – the 21% with a hangover and the 14% who just wanted to start a weekend early but on the whole, people just want a break.

It costs everyone

Whilst you might think a few days here and there is no bother, it’s actually a whopping problem. As a whole, SMEs are losing more than 7.5 million working days to fake illness – and based on the average UK salary of £27,000 those sick days have a combined value of £900 million to the UK’s GDP.

Have you made a culture where employees are ‘always available’?

“The results are striking for how contradictory we are as people,” said Jonathan Richards, CEO at breatheHR who created the survey. “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.”

Dan Jenkins, Managing Director, HJS Solutions thinks that it’s something employers need to address. “My general approach to work is that employers are entitled to expect their employees to work hard during working hours, focusing purely on business matters and giving 100% of their time and attention to the business. Breaks should be taken in full and working long hours beyond contractual working hours should be the exception rather than the norm. Consistent and excessively long working hours are a sign of disorganisation and lack of effi ciency, or possibly lack of resources. Where this is occurring, eff orts should be made to identify the reasons and to correct them, as no one can sustain excessive working hours and days without rest and still remain fully effective.

“My general approach to work is that employers are entitled to expect their employees to work hard during working hours, focusing purely on business matters and giving 100% of their time and attention to the business. Breaks should be taken in full and working long hours beyond contractual working hours should be the exception rather than the norm. Consistent and excessively long working hours are a sign of disorganisation and lack of efficiency, or possibly lack of resources. Where this is occurring, efforts should be made to identify the reasons and to correct them, as no one can sustain excessive working hours and days without rest and still remain fully effective. 

 

Jonathan Richards adds “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.”

How to reduce fake sick days

  1. Check in frequently on workload and happiness in teams
  2. Monitor sickness and look at trends
  3. Try and build a healthy workplace and a culture of wellbeing
  4. Check your annual leave policies – are they too restrictive?
  5. Make sure you are flexible around busy lives as much as possible
  6. Take ‘preventative measures’ against burn out
  7. Encourage proper back to work interviews where listening is key
  8. Revisit your out of work hours working policies and own behaviours
  9. Allow ‘self-policed’ time off for appointments
  10. Reward low absenteeism

 

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