Recent research from FreeOfficeFinder amongst 10,000 office workers across the UK found that almost a third (31%) admitted to lying about having time off sick in the past twelve months.
Of those that admitted they had lied, 58% said they had only done it once; however 42% said that they had lied about a sick day on more than one occasion. The most common reason for taking time off sick was a hangover – with almost half (47%) admitting to this, followed by dreading work (18%) and no reason (15%).
Some of the more creative reasons given in the survey included “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.”
Interestingly the survey found that women seem to lie more than men about being sick – with 37% of women surveyed admitted doing this at least once in the past year, compared with 25% of men.
And, surprisingly, it was the older age groups with the higher percentage of people who had lied, with 46% of 31-35 years old and 41% of the 36+ group admitting to taking a sick day without being ill, compared with 21% of the 18-25 year olds.
“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.
“Investing in absence management software can help companies monitor trends, such as someone regularly taking a Friday or Monday off or flag up employees with ongoing health issues. Having this information at their fingertips enables managers to investigate and speak to the individual to find out if there are any underlying issues and look at how they could offer support.
“Having formal return to work processes including interviews also work well. They can help deter people from lying as most people don’t want to blatantly lie face to face to their manager,” adds Mr Lewis.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) last year highlighted that workplace health is a ‘significant public health issue’. They said each year more than a million working people in the UK experience a work-related illness. This leads to around 27 million lost working days costing the economy an estimated £13.4 billion.
Adrian Lewis said:
“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 have a tendency to lie.
“Investing in such systems will in a relatively short period of time help organisations better manage sickness absence and reduce their sick leave bill which will have a positive impact on their bottom line.”