By Daniel Hunter

Small businesses owners are being encouraged to crack down on staff taking 'sickies' after new research revealed that the UK’s 'sick day' culture is costing them up to £3.15 billion each year.

Research carried out by ClearSky HR estimates that the average small business owner loses up to 40 days of working time each year from employees claiming to be ill when they’re not. This equates to over £2,800 in wasted salaries over a 12-month period.

Experts advise small business owners to protect themselves by putting in place proper procedures to crack down on abuse from workers.

“It’s small business owners that suffer most when staff are absent from work, often having to step in themselves to make up for lost time," Derek Kelly, Group Managing Director of ClearSky said.

“Skivers may see employers who run small businesses as a soft touch, as they don’t always have the same systems and procedures to deal with unplanned absences as larger businesses often do.

“However, by implementing a few simple policies and procedures, small business owners can help to reduce the practice of skiving and save themselves days of lost time and wasted money.”

ClearSky HR has the following advice for small business owners:

- Put a clear sickness policy in place that sets out everyone’s rights and responsibilities.
- Track absences so that you can spot patterns early and address problems — for example, regular absences before or after the weekend.
- Decide what levels of absence should require further explanation. For example, 4 occasions in any 12-month period.
- Conduct return to work interviews so that you satisfy yourself that the reasons for the absence were genuine and to discuss any concerns you may have.
- Understand how to carry out a disciplinary procedure should you establish that there was no valid reason for an absence from work.

ClearSky HR’s research reveals that:

- An estimated 375,000 employees working for small businesses fake illness to get time off work.

- It is estimated that this amounts to up to 40 days per small business each year.

- This equates to wasted salary of £2,800 per small business each year.

- In total, this equates to a potential loss of £3.5bn for UK small businesses that have employees.

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