Monday 6 February 2017 9:47 am

National Sickie Day 2017: Today is the worst day of the year for absenteeism

If you're reading this from home, after making a quick call to the boss to explain that you're too "ill" to make it into work this morning, you're in good company – for today is National Sickie Day.

The Employment Law Experts (ELAS) estimates that 350,000 people will have called in sick today, costing the UK economy up to £45m in wages, lost hours and overtime – a jump up from estimates of £34m last year.

The majority of workers calling sick seemingly just needed a break, with top reasons for calling in sick including that they “just didn’t feel like going to work”, according to research conducted by software firm FreeAgent.

And FreeAgent boss Ed Molyneux believes the problem of mass absenteeism could be solved by unhappy workers branching out and becoming self-employed.

"Britain’s economy would surely be better off if unhappy workers who regularly take sick leave, instead broke free from the 9-to-5 to follow their own passions," he said.

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These were the most common excuses for absence last year, according to HR group ELAS

Meanwhile, Ann Francke, head of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), said that while National Sickie Day could come across as a "frivolous PR story" – similar accusations have been levelled against Blue Monday – it should serve as a reminder that employers need to deal with stress and unhappiness in the workplace.

"Having good quality leadership and management is the biggest factor in determining productivity," Francke said.

"Good, skilled managers know that they need to switch off and empower their employees to do the same. As such, they strike the necessary work/life balance, which must be a priority for both employers and the government in facing up to the challenge of improving workplace stress.

"Doing so will not only help improve the performance and happiness of the UK’s workforce, it will also be crucial in closing the country’s chronic productivity gap."