Midland workers throw an average ten ‘sickies’ a year, adding millions to the UK’s estimated £32 billion bill for absenteeism, a report shows.
With the average UK salary around £25,000, the level of absenteeism is costing British business far more than previous studies have suggested, according to PwC.
The level of absenteeism in the UK is around twice that in the US (5.5 days) and Asia-Pacific (4.5 days), but on a par with Western Europe (9.7 days).
Sickness accounts for around 80 per cent of absence, which also covers jury service and compassionate leave. Jeremy May, human resources expert at PwC in the Midlands, said: “Absenteeism is a significant problem for Midlands businesses.
“With sickness accounting for the lion’s share of absence, the question for employers is what can be done to improve health, morale and motivation.
“The line between a worker taking a ‘sickie’ and experiencing genuine ‘sickness’ can be blurred, with disenchantment at work sometimes exacerbating medical conditions or preventing a speedy return.
“You might think the perceived US work culture of long hours and short holidays could lead to higher stress and sick rates.
“Our data suggests otherwise, or perhaps demonstrates that strong employee engagement and commitment can override workplace pressures.”
PwC’s analysis suggests labour laws favouring employers in US and Asia could also play a part, with a sense among workers that there is more at stake if they are not committed.
Mr May added: “Keeping staff engaged is arguably the biggest part of the battle, but you also need clear policies in place to make it less appealing for people to take unwarranted leave, while protecting those people with genuine illness.
“There’s also a question of whether UK employers should be investing more in the health of their workforce. US firms tend to take greater responsibility for staff well-being.”