How to tell when employees are pulling sickies

How to tell when employees are pulling sickies

Almost a third (31%) of employees admitted to pulling a sickie in the past twelve months.

Of those that admitted telling a white lie, under half (42%) said that they had lied about a sick day more than once, recent research from FreeOfficeFinder found.

The survey of 10,000 office workers across the UK found that the most common reason for taking time off sick was a hangover, with just under half (47%) fibbing about being ill (when really, they were suffering from a booze-fuelled headache).  

Worryingly, 18% said they ‘fell ill’ and needed a day off because they dreaded work (18%). 15% stayed at home for no reason.

Women lied more than men when it came to faking illness, with 37% of women surveyed admitted doing this at least once in the past year, compared with 25% of men.

Furthermore, the older age groups had a higher percentage of fibbers, with 46% of 31- to 35-year-olds and 41% of those aged 36-years-old or higher admitting to pulling a sickie, compared with 21% of 18- to 25-year-olds.

Some employees offered creative reasons for losing a day at work, including: “My cat died and I was too depressed to go in”, “I started watching Breaking Bad and had to take a day off because I was so addicted to it,” and “I get paid for having days off sick so it would be stupid to not take some.”

Adrian Lewis, Director at Activ Absence, comments: “It can be really difficult for companies to crack down on people lying about being sick, but one thing they can do is ensure they have the right systems in place for tracking absence, and having greater transparency can be a good deterrent.

“Having formal return to work processes including interviews also works well. They can help deter people from lying as most people don’t want to blatantly lie face to face to their manager.”

Last year, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence highlighted that workplace health is a ‘significant public health issue’ which costs the UK economy an estimated £13.4billion.

Lewis adds: “Having visibility of the workforce and access to absence data gives bosses visibility of who has been off and when, and the reasons why, but it also acts as a preventative measure for those that could tend to lie.

“Investing in such systems will, in a relatively short period, help organisations better manage sickness absence and reduce their sick leave bill, which will have a positive impact on their bottom line.”  

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Comments (2)

  • Matt
    Mon, 21 Nov 2016 2:44pm GMT
    JD - with greatest respect I disagree. I personally find that Return to Work Interviews can be very beneficial. I don't see it as a tool to catch 'fibbers', a clear and monitored absence management system will deal with employees taking liberties. For me a Return to Work Interview covers a multitude of things. Why were you absent? Is there anything the Company could assist with? Are you fit to return? (It's worth noting that presenteeism can be just as damaging as absenteeism). Will you be paid for the absence. I see the biggest failing of most Companies is a lack of communication, these kind of interviews (if done properly) present an opportunity to maintain clear dialogue between management and the employee (and visa versa)
  • JD
    Wed, 16 Nov 2016 2:30pm GMT
    Having interviews when returning to work after genuinely being ill is a good way to demoralise the staff and make them feel like they don't work for an employer who trusts them. I know that if I had interviews after returning from being ill to ensure I wasn't lying then I would leave that company fairly quickly.

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