Sickies soar in January

Women biggest offenders in national absence survey

It’s isn’t just Blue Monday that sees the number of sickies soar. A new poll has revealed that more people will take an unwarranted day off work this month than any other, with women being the most likely sex to ‘pull a sickie’, often giving an embarrassing reason for doing so to avoid any unwanted questions.

More than half (56%) of the female participants of a survey carried out by Sovereign Health Care admitted to pulling a sickie when not really ill, compared with just a third (33%) of men.

Women were regarded as the greatest culprits of providing what colleagues would consider uncomfortable reasons for not making it into the office. The majority of both men (72%) and women (83%) cited women using ‘women’s issues’ as the most common embarrassing excuse given to avoid questions from a boss or colleague about the absence.

It therefore comes as no surprise that the fairer sex is also the most sceptical when they are on the receiving end of a colleague’s excuses, with women 10% more likely than men to think the reason being given for not coming into work is fabricated.

However, when asked how a day off ‘sick’ would normally be spent, 92% of women said that they would simply stay in bed, a figure 20% higher than men.

Men also revealed themselves to be four times more likely to go shopping on a day’s sick leave than their female counterparts and six times more likely to go for a walk or spend time outdoors.

The poll highlighted Flu as the overall most common reason for people calling in sick, with headache and toothache the least likely reasons for absence.

Russ Piper, Sovereign Health Care chief executive says: “The fact that there is a difference in the way absence is perceived by men and women doesn’t come as a surprise, but when we look at how the sexes differ in their attitudes; they fluctuate greatly from the stereotypes many people have.

“Workplace absence is an emotive subject, particularly when so many employees now feel they have to do more just to keep their jobs, without having to pick up the slack from others who are taking, perhaps unjustified, days off.

“Managing absence can be a complex process, but employers have a responsibility to all members of staff to ensure they are motivated and supported and that their systems are not open to abuse.”

The absence survey also highlighted a number of non-sickness related excuses. These ranged from the strange to the downright ridiculous. Ten of the best:

  1. My dog has fallen and broken all its legs
  2. There’s a squirrel in my lounge
  3. I’ve been away for the weekend and need to stay at home because my cats missed me
  4. A pigeon has just flown into my flat
  5. I can’t find my shoes
  6. I forgot I worked here
  7. I’m locked in the house
  8. I can’t afford the bus because you don’t pay me enough
  9. My boyfriend has just been shot in the foot
  10. My car has frozen to the ground

Sovereign Health Care carried out the research amongst 1,360 respondents as a way of highlighting to employers the importance of managing staff absence effectively and raising awareness of the link between the issue and promoting personal health and wellbeing in the workplace.