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Stressed workers admit to ‘playing hooky’

5 September 2011

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Flexible working hours could reduce the number of employees taking sick days when they are not actually sick, a survey shows.

According to the Kronos Global Absence Survey, 43% of UK respondents admitted to calling in sick when they were not actually sick.

The overwhelming majority of respondents cited stress as the reason for playing ‘hooky’. Other reasons selected included needing to take care of a sick child, having too heavy a workload, and not having enough paid leave.

Flexible working hours came top in every region when asked how employers could prevent workers calling in sick when they were not actually sick.

Being given the opportunity to work from home and the opportunity to take unpaid leave also rated high among employees around the world.

“Employers everywhere can learn from this survey – about the problem of absenteeism and the possible fixes,” said Joyce Maroney, Director of the Workforce Institute, Kronos, commissioner of the research.

The majority of employees in all regions said that they were negatively impacted when co-workers called in sick, with the top reason being that they had to take on the work or shift of the missing employee.

Unscheduled absences, such as when an employee calls in sick at the last minute, cost organisations 8.7% of its payroll costs each year, a second survey sponsored by Kronos revealed.

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“There are many reasons an individual needs to take a day off work: sickness, family problems, stress, unexpected need to work at home, and many others. There should be a particular number of leave days for each employee for any reason” – Donald Clink, Ontario