Absence management experts reveal the first Monday in February is not the worst day for sickies, despite the day being called national sickie day.
Millions of pieces of data from hundreds of thousands of UK employees over the last decade have revealed that so-called National Sickie Day, tarred as the worst day in the year for employees being off ill, is a myth.Whether it’s the dreary weather, a heavy weekend or winter cough, the first Monday in February has long been notorious for non-attendance.
But by analysing huge amounts of data, absence management software firm BrightHR has uncovered that the worst day for sickness-related absence is actually the second Monday in December. This was closely followed by the third Monday in June, the third Monday in November and the first Monday in December.
In fact, the official National Sickie Day ranked only 14th in the line-up the most illness blighted days.
Commenting on the findings, BrightHR’s CEO Paul Tooth said: “Three of the highest ranking sickness days fall within the bleaker months - flu season being the obvious culprit. But there could be another cause here too. Around 75 per cent of businesses reset their holiday allowance at the start of January, and unless managed, many workers find themselves running low on ‘rest’ daystowards the end of the year. So staff maxing out holidays too early on in the year could also be leading to ‘sickies’ being pulled in the months leading up to Christmas.
“It’s surprising that sickness also peaked in June. There has been a rise in employees taking leave due to severe pollen allergies in the UK in recent years - which may explain this spike.”
Proving the Monday Blues struggle is real, the first day of the working week was by far the most prolific for sickness-related absence, with over 25 per cent of sick days landing on a Monday.
On the flip side, BrightHR’s research has revealed the last Friday in February could well be dubbed National Wellness Day, with the least number of sickness-related absences consistently recorded on that day. The first Friday in August came a close second for least number of sickies.
Paul Tooth added: “Monday was by far the worst day for sickness, while it seems the Friday feeling was enough to keep people carrying out their role until the end of the working week.
“Sickness leave can be difficult for business owners to manage. Even if they have a suspicion that someone is ‘pulling a sickie’, they need to go through the proper procedures to ensure they don't leave themselves liable to potential costly employment tribunal cases further down the line. Keeping records of sickness, including correspondence and ‘fit’ notes where applicable, is the best way to protect a business from this.”