This article was published on July 10th, 2017
If you’re a fan of the Peter Kay show, Car Share, you’ll have seen the perfect sickie in the making. John’s car share buddy, Kayleigh, calls into work. She feigns a stomach bug with great aplomb, while John looks on. It’s all part of her plan to lure John, who happens to be the assistant manager in the store where they both work, to the safari park for the day.
The chance of that precise scenario happening in real life may be slim, and even slimmer these days, since it appears that fewer workers are taking sickies. According to the Office for National Statistics, when records began in 1993 7.2 days were lost per worker. In 2016 that figure fell to 4.3 days.
It seems that more of us will soldier on, rather than sink under the duvet, when we feel unwell. The Aviva Working Lives Report 2017 has revealed that 69% of employees surveyed said that they’d gone into work when they should have been off sick. Forty-one per cent said that if they take time off sick, the work just piles up. Twenty-three per cent said that they had taken a day off sick when they weren’t unwell.
No employer wants workers pulling sickies. But do you really want people in work when they’re not up to it? It’s not just about the spread of germs (although the domino effect of workers being struck down is always unwelcome). Someone who’s not firing on all cylinders can be a liability. Perhaps above all, a worker who really is unwell should feel able to stay at home to recover.
There’s definitely a balance to be struck. But, contrary to what some employers may believe, a culture of ‘presenteeism’ isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.