In 2011, a survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 1 in 3 workers in the UK had admitted to taking a so-called ‘sickie’.
For anyone who doesn’t know (or pleads ignorance), a ‘sickie’ is a fabricated excuse which an employee makes for not going into work. In general, these excuses involve reeling off a line of symptoms whilst throwing in a cough or two for good measure. This was clearly reflected in the 2011 survey as four out of ten workers admitted that they even went so far as spending a few days building up their fake symptoms at work before they called in their pre-emptied sickie!
The survey made for fascinating reading. Indeed, the various reasons/justifications employees gave for calling in sick included:
• Being bored at work
• Feeling depressed
• Having to deal with family issues
• Working too hard and ‘rewarding’ one’s self with time off
As well as the more obvious reasons for calling in sick (flu, food poisoning, ‘bug’), some employees also came up with a number of more elaborate excuses for taking time off work. These included: injury during sex, a dart in the back of the head, dementia found in gums after a trip to dentist, and limescale falling into eyes whilst having a shower.
And people say we have no creative talent in this country!
Of course, there is a far more serious side to workplace absenteeism.
Indeed, it is estimated that unnecessary absences cost UK businesses around £32 billion a year. And it’s not just in the pocket where sickies can have a negative affect. They can also damage staff morale as employees who do manage to turn up every day soon get fed up with having to do the work of those who can’t be bothered to get out of bed and do their fair share.
Fortunately, there is a relatively simple way for companies to deal with this problem – update their working practices.
Most people take sickies simply because they are unhappy with the monotony of their jobs. However, some jobs (especially office-based roles) lend themselves favourably to flexible working patterns, such as flexi-hours and working from home for part of the week. Introducing these kinds of practises can help to keep staff members more engaged in their work, thereby reducing their ‘need’ to take a sickie every so often.
Of course, any company that opts to change their working practices will need to make amendments to their staff handbooks as well individual workers’ employment contracts. Fortunately, all of the document templates needed to do this are available in our Employment sub-folder here on the Simply-docs website. Indeed, we have everything from full and part-time contracts of employment to staff handbook policy templates available to download at a moment’s notice, so any company that is keen to make changes to their working practices can rest assured they will be able to do so in no time at all.
Interested? Explore our pages further to find out more.