Pulling a sickie

Less than a third of workers in the UK believe stress to be a valid reason to take a sick day, according to a new study.

The research, conducted by online printing specialists, instantprint, found that stress is among the least accepted reasons for a sick day with just 31%. Compartively, flu (71%), bereavement (62%) and hospital appointments or emergency visits (61%) were considered to be the most valid.

However, a third (34%) of workers said they had taken a sick day for mental health reasons.

In light of current events, instantprint said it’s integral that both employees and businesses across the globe 'take a more serious stance when it comes to the inherent stigma behind calling in sick', and with the ever-increasing coverage of said pandemic, aided by the new government allowances in regard to sick pay, it is hoped that workers across the globe will take heed and act both sensibly and without selfishness.

According to the study, UK employees called in sick an average of 2.6 days each in 2019, with one in ten British adults admitting to calling in sick for up to 5 days in the last year alone. Comparatively, more than a third of Brits (37%) shared that they had “pulled a sickie” in 2019, despite not actually being unwell.

Seemingly, those doing so are happy to use the excuse of the flu (17%), coincidentally the most common choice amongst Brits for justifying a sick day, as their reason of choice for faking a sick day.

The city’s where workers were most likely to call in sick were found to be London (3.1 days taken in 2019 on average), Leeds (3 days) and Edinburgh (3 days). Whilst Bristol (1.2 days), Norwich (1.6 days) and Glasgow (1.6 days) were those with the least.

When asked to comment on the ailments or reasons that justify taking a sick day, the data showed that almost 10% more Brits would be likely call in sick due to suffering from flu, than they would because of the loss of a family member (71%/62%).

A trip to A&E (61%), physical injuries (57%) and sickness and nausea (52%) completed the top five list of justifiable reasons for a sick day for working Brits.

Despite mental health and anxiety becoming a more widely discussed topic in recent years, less than half of those surveyed believe that mental health and anxiety-related reasons warrant a day off sick, and only 31% believe stress is a valid reason to do so.

Stigma around sick days was revealed to be a common theme for many UK workers, as it was revealed that 85% of those surveyed have felt under pressure from their employers when calling in sick.

In fact, a fifth of Brits feel pressure to go in to work even when unwell, which according to the latest ONS stats on employment equates to 5.3million UK employees, and a further fifth (18%) will never call in sick due to said reasons.

Jon Constantine-Smith, head of instantprint, said: Whilst a sick day can sometimes mean a slight inconvenience for employers and co-workers, no one should feel so under pressure to head into the office when genuinely unwell.

“Helping those working for you to feel comfortable when calling in sick and being open, helps to promote a happy and healthy workforce. In turn, you’ll see you have a more positive place of work, which is something so many companies strive for.”