Most of us will be familiar with the hilarious film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – and his skill at pulling the wool over the eyes of nearest and dearest in bunking off school.
However, when it comes to the workplace, ‘pulling a sickie’ is no laughing matter for businesses across the UK, who lose billions of pounds in productivity each year.
A recent report from CV-Library has revealed that more than 75 per cent of workers pulled a sickie in the last 12 months, and about 1 in 5 made up an excuse – ranging from their pet hamster being ill, needing time to prepare for a weekend BBQ to getting blisters from new shoes following a night out!
It has been suggested that sick days currently cost UK businesses more than £18 billion in lost productivity every year, with other studies suggesting that £9 billion of that figure is down to pulling a sickie.
Buckles Solicitors LLP has some advice for bosses when it comes to spotting the signs of a sickie scam and addressing the problem.
Solicitor Alison Banerjee said: “Employers should have in place an up-to-date sickness absence policy and be prepared to enforce it.
“This may well mean having difficult conversations with your employees about the reasons they are calling in sick particularly when they don’t even mention being ill themselves! Training your managers so they are ready and prepared to have these difficult conversations and supporting them when they challenge questionable excuses are key to managing sickness absence.
“Ensure that return to work interviews take place and maintain accurate records. Review the records and look for patterns of absence.”
Alison added: “There are alternatives to “sickies” available. You, your managers and your employees need to be aware of them and be prepared to suggest them when the excuse for not coming to work is obviously not that of illness. Would time off to care for dependents in an emergency, parental leave, holiday, compassionate leave or even unpaid leave be more appropriate in the circumstances?
“Employers should use their discretion. If the reason for not coming in to work is a hangover then the employee may not be fit to drive to work let alone operate machinery if their blood alcohol is still high. Other than health and safety issues there is also the reputational damage that their presence in the workplace could bring. There is also nothing less inviting for a client or customer than having alcohol fumes breathed over them. So, if the employee is still suffering a hangover, ensure that you do the return to work interview having reviewed previous absences. If you don’t have a substance abuse policy in place then this may well be the time to introduce one to the workplace.
Having difficult conversations is not easy for most of us, but actively policing sickness absence is vital to the performance of your business and, ultimately, its profitability. If you don’t act then you could be misleading your employees by giving the impression that what they are doing is acceptable and serve only to lower the morale of other employees.”
The research revealed the worst excuses that people have given for not turning up to work:
- I have blisters from wearing new shoes on Saturday night
- I’ve got a terrible migraine (also known as a hideous hangover)
- My hamster is sick and needs to go to the vet
- I left my uniform on the bus
- I lost a darts tournament last night and I am too traumatised to come in
- A tree has fallen onto my property and it needs to be cleared/made safe
- My boyfriend changed his relationship status on Facebook to single
- There are cows in my garden so I can’t get to work
- I didn’t get to bed until late so I’m too tired to come in
- I’m having a BBQ at the weekend and need time to prepare