11 July 2014: Throwing a Sickie: Occasional low level sickness absence can be a significant problem for employers. While sickness absence is often genuine, staff also sometimes throw a ‘sickie.’
The BBC reports this week a survey by PwC aiming that £9 billion is lost to UK businesses every year due to staff taking sickies. The report suggests that hangovers are the most common reason for pulling a “sickie” from work, with boredom with work, sporting events and extending the weekend also being the reason for going AWOL for a day or two. The report did not look at whether staff who pulled sickies might work harder when they returned to work.
Among the more unlikely reasons for workers taking sickies included a claim that a pet dog had eaten the keys, ant attacks, male menopause and kidnaps.
One approach to combating this problem would be to offer “duvet days”, allowing for a limited number of authorised late starts during the year (if the time is then made up). It is sensible to always discuss the reason for absence on the employee’s return to work, in order to send a signal that spurious absences will not be accepted.
In effect, falsely claiming sick leave amounts to obtaining payment by deception and could therefore be regarded as potentially gross misconduct. If an employee brags about faking sickness to take the day off in the office or on social media, employers may be armed with all the information they need to take disciplinary action.
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