National Sickie Day: Technology is making it easier for people to call in sick - and absenteeism is costing businesses ever more

Catherine Neilan
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Has half of your office failed to turn up to work today? There might be a reason for that - and if the boss finds out, someone might be about to get into trouble.

Today is dubbed "National Sickie Day" - the day of the year with the highest number of people calling in sick.

HR group ELAS, which crowned the day (usually the first Monday in February) five years ago, estimates that this one day alone could cost British businesses more than £34m because of an "upsurge" in unauthorised staff absences on or around 1 February.

If you're looking a bit thin on the ground in the office today, chances are your colleagues might have used one of these following excuses.

1. Sick or migraine (30%)

2. ‘Illness’ (12%)

3. Stomach bug or diarrhoea (6%)

4. Flu/cold (6%)

5. Blame relative/children (5%)

6. Food poisoning (3%)

7. Death or a funeral (2%)

Peter Mooney, head of consultancy at ELAS, believes one of the reasons for the increase in people calling in sick is technology. Many employers have "drifted" into accepting text messages or emails from staff who plan to take the day off - and failing to challenge their reasons for not coming in.

“Employees need to know that fabricated reasons for missing work will not be tolerated," he said. "To minimise the impact false sickies have on businesses, it’s important that employers take the issue seriously, recording all instances of lateness and absence, conducting back-to-work interviews and crucially, having clear policies and procedures in place which are regularly communicated to all staff.”

If you get one of the following excuses, you probably know what to do...

The worst excuses for not coming in

1) Still over the limit from the night before.

2) The worker was trying for a baby.

3) His dog had chewed his shoes.

4) His grandfather had died. The HR manager bumped into the grandfather a few days later. 

5) Trousers still wet

6) Hurt finger while play fighting with her boyfriend.

Source: ELAS 

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