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Absenteeism research revealed

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New research from British Gas reveals that 30 percent of people in work – over nine million[i] Brits – have had to call in sick, take unplanned holiday or arrive late to deal with winter-related home emergencies.

According to a nationwide survey from British Gas which polled more than 5,000 people[ii], Londoners were most likely to do so, with two in five (44 percent) stating they took unexpected time off because of a home emergency. The research uncovered that, on average, workers take around two hours off each year to deal with winter-related home emergencies – more than 12 working days over their working life[iii]. Time off has caused some to worry about the impression this creates at work. One in 10 think taking this time off sends the wrong idea to their boss or colleagues. A further 10 percent worry that it may prevent a pay rise or promotion or even put their job in jeopardy.  

Topping the list of winter woes is boiler breakdowns (37 percent), closely followed by blocked drains (30 percent) and electrical faults (21 percent), costing an average of £542[iv] to fix the problem and repair damage. For some, winter-related emergencies have had a financial impact in more ways than one, with one in 10 saying they’ve lost a day’s pay due to dealing with an unexpected home emergency. This amounts to almost £100 in lost wages[v] in an average year. On top of the average £542 paid out for breakdowns and repairs, this can be particularly costly, and most unwelcome early in the year as people look for ways to save money after Christmas.

Matthew Bateman, managing director at British Gas residential services comments:“The results of the research highlight that winter home emergencies can take a toll on people in terms of time and money, and worrying about how it impacts time away from their job.  Every winter we increase the number of staff in our call centre teams so we have the resources ready to help customers who may be calling us with problems. Last winter our team of 10,000 engineers were able to attend to 95 percent of boiler breakdowns on the same day, when called by our HomeCare customers before 1pm. We also provide the tools for customers to book appointments and track the location of their engineer online or via our App.” Chris Brain, a British Gas engineer from Canterbury, adds:“This winter, frozen condensate pipes have been a big problem for customers with condensing boilers in colder areas of the country. Frozen pipes can result in damage to the boiler and even flooding, so people should ensure pipes on the outside of their home are wrapped with lagging, at the very least.

“Our YouTube channel and website provides people with some handy hints and tips to keep their homes in top working order.” To avoid as many people as possible having to take time off work, British Gas’ Home Services engineers are offering households simple advice on how to look after their home during the winter.

1.    Bleed your radiators: to make sure they are working properly. If your radiators have cold spots, this means you have air in the system, so you will need to bleed them to get them working efficiently.

i.    To do this, turn the system off and then turn the radiator key until the air stops and water runs consistently. Once you have turned the system back on, the problem should be solved.

ii.    Bleeding your radiator may result in pressure dropping. If you have a pressure gauge make sure the boiler is at the right pressure and top up as necessary.

2.    Block the breeze: Make sure all of your home’s windows and doors seal properly to stop warm air escaping. For those that don’t, fitting draught excluders, which you can buy from most DIY stores, is a quick and cheap way to cut down on your energy bills.

3.    Stay safe: It’s vital that you don’t forget to have an audible carbon monoxide alarm fitted and that you test it regularly.

4.    Love your boiler: Check tomake sure your boiler is working properly before winter sets in. The older your boiler the more inefficient it will be. If you have a pressure gauge make sure the boiler is at the right pressure and top up as necessary.

5.    Wrap up your water tank and insulate hot water: The materials can be purchased from most DIY stores and help to conserve heat and save you money.

6.    Insulate your pipes: Burst pipes are a huge issue for UK households during winter months. To help prevent burst pipes, ensure all pipes are properly insulated by using lagging, which can be bought cheaply from most DIY shops.

British Gas would be happy help with any winter related stories you have planned over the coming weeks. We can offer:

–  Engineer advice with regard to preparing for cold snaps

–  Engineer advice for dealing with extreme weather (during and after)

–  On the ground commentary from British Gas Services engineers during cold snaps and times of extreme weather

–  Interviews with British Gas Services engineers

–  Case studies

–  British Gas Services call out data

–  Data from British Gas’s National Distribution Centre (NDC), for example the NDC has issued 609,953 parts to engineers across the country in the first month of 2015                                

About British Gas Services

British Gas has more than 10,000 engineers who serve over four million homes across the country, helping to provide support when things go wrong in the home – such as broken boilers, faulty electrics or leaking pipes. Last winter** British Gas got to 95 percent of boiler breakdowns on the same day, when called before 1pm. British Gas’ HomeCare service provides customers with unlimited callouts***, and covers the costs of both parts and labour****. British Gas’ HomeCare customers rate the company for engineer satisfaction, value for money and ease of booking online – overall 4.5/5.

**British Gas HomeCare customers

***Your breakdown history will be taken into account in determining next year’s pricing, see terms and conditions at

****Limits and exclusions apply in certain circumstances

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