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Summer brings rise in sickies don’t neglect return to work interviews

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  • 19 percent of British workers – around 9 million people – admit they have pulled a sickie in the past 12 months.
  • 28 percent of 18-24 year old workers have lied in the past year to get out of going into work, as have 23 percent of 25-39s.
  • 5 percent of UK workers also admitted to not going into work just because they were hung over – and this increased to 11 percent of 18-24 year olds.

As balmy summer days hit the UK, timed perfectly with the Olympics and a looming bank holiday, HR Managers are bracing themselves for another round of short term sickness absence.

According to YouGov research, 19 percent of British workers – around 9 million people – admit they have pulled a sickie in the past 12 months, either by making up an excuse about being ill when they weren’t (7 percent), saying they were more ill than they were to avoid going in (7 percent) or making up some other kind of excuse that was untrue (5 percent). Among the young workforce, the numbers don’t help the stereotype: 28 percent of 18-24 year old workers have lied in the past year to get out of going into work, as have 23 percent of 25-39s.

Five percent of UK workers also admitted to not going into work just because they were hung over – and this increased to 11 percent of 18-24 year olds. However, absence management expert Adrian Lewis from Activ Absence says that short term absence is a complicated issue and should not be brushed off without further investigation – even during periods when sickies are traditionally high. Adrian Lewis says, “It’s certainly true that sickies happen, and one analysis suggests the cost in lost productivity of 375,000 sickies in February alone was £34 million.   

HR Managers using our software tell us that their favourite report is the ‘Mondays and Fridays’ report on absence trends, and they all say the same thing, that the report shows a clear spike in absenteeism among workers keen to ‘extend the weekend’ – often when the weather is sunny and definitely on Bank Holiday Tuesdays. We even compiled a funny video on some of the silliest sickie excuses our customers had heard.  However, absence isn’t funny – and while the trends report is great, short term sickness shouldn’t be dismissed automatically as ‘sickies’ without further investigation.” 

However, Adrian says that HR should always carry out a return to work interview: “There are many reasons a person can be short-term absent, for example a disability related absence such as epilepsy or a diabetic crisis, stress and depression, problems at home, genuine illness and of course, sickies. They all need to be handled carefully, and a skilled HR Manager is the best person to judge how to handle each instance. Targeted support would be more effective if an interview uncovers something other than a sickie, and only a one-on-one interview is likely to identify this”

“As well as return to work interviews, a good absence management system will accurately record and manage sickness absence, so patterns are brought to the HR Manager’s attention – getting it right can not only protect the company from legal issues, but also improve engagement and ultimately employee wellbeing – and that can prove a win/win for everyone,” he concluded.

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2015/10/27/one-five-workers-have-pulled-sickie-year/

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