It has come round already, the first Monday of February 2019, otherwise known in the UK as the ‘National Sickie Day’!
According to the national statistics, the first Monday in February is the most popular day for people to pull a sickie. There are many reasons banded about for this phenomenon. As it falls in 2019, this is the first Monday after dry-January (another phenomenon in the UK) and after the first pay day since Christmas, so many people will have been painting the town red over the weekend and then nursing their head on the Monday. Another reason is that during January many people re-evaluate their career goals and then spend the first week of February attending interviews.
With numbers of people calling in sick on this day increasing over the last 7 years, the good news is that whilst the numbers grow, the actual number of days they take sick is decreasing.
Last year there was an estimated 350,000 people calling in sick on the first Monday of February, which cost businesses approximately £45million in lost wages, hours and overtime. In 2014 ITV conducted a poll where it found that the most popular reasons used included the flu; a cold; and food poisoning, however 46% of those interviewed stated that the real reason for calling in sick was due to feeling tired. Whatever the true reason is behind this national day, it causes problems for many employers.
How to manage staff absence is a headache for a lot of employers, however there are key steps you can take to help manage the absence levels in your business.
Firstly, having a well drafted sickness absence policy in place is a must, as this will set out exactly what is expected of staff when they are sick. Requiring staff to call in their sickness, rather than send an email or text message, can be a factor in discouraging staff to pull a sickie day.
Also having a well oiled reporting and record keeping process in place will deter staff from pulling a sickie day as they will be faced with a back to work interview on return where they will need to provide details of their absence. This process will also allow you to detect any patterns in absence amongst staff and whether there are any underlying issues that need to be raised and addressed.
Some employers have used alternative measures to try to combat staff pulling a sickie day, the most common of which is businesses giving staff a set amount of ‘duvet days’ per year. This allows staff to phone work in the morning and say that they are taking a ‘duvet day’ without having to lie or feel guilty. A benefit to this system is that employers have a little more control over the sickie days and it shows employees that their health and well-being as well as staff engagement is of paramount importance to the employer and ultimately will result in happier and stress free staff.
Whatever your approach as an employer, we are here to help guide and advise you through your employment needs, so please do get in contact with one of our employment law experts here at Gregg Latchams.