UK companies are losing billions of pounds every year due to staff taking time off for genuine and fake illnesses, a new survey shows.Figures from Peninsula show that absenteeism costs British business £20.9 billion each year in lost work, close to a fifth of which is not caused by a genuine illness or injury.The employment law firm’s poll reveals that 17 per cent of all sick days are fraudulent, meaning that £3.5 billion – or 82 million days – are lost every year by staff taking a ‘sickie’."We have found an increased number of workers are calling in absent compared to previous research we carried out in 2002," Mike Huss, employment law director at Peninsula, told HRZone."The average number of sick days taken in 2002 by workers was eight days; that figure has now risen to twice as much and is now 16 days," he added.The firm recommends mandatory ‘return to work’ interviews after anyone is off sick, both to discourage unnecessary sick days but also to help address any concerns an employee may have about returning to work.© Adfero Ltd