Can you spot which staff are faking their sickies?

Here’s what you can do if you suspect an employee is being dishonest about being off sick

Research has recently shown that a high percentage of office workers have lied about the reason they were absent from work.

31% of the 10,000 employees recently questioned by FreeOfficeFinder admitted to telling their boss they were off sick when they weren’t, with 58% of those saying they had only done it once and 42% lying multiple times.

The survey also found that women were the gender most likely to lie about their sickness, with 37% of women and 25% of men confessing to at least one occasion in the past 12 months. The higher age brackets were most likely to have lied, with 41% of those aged 36 years and above and 46% of 31-35 year olds owning up to faking being ill. Significantly less 18-25 year olds, just 21%, acknowledged that they too had lied.

Some of the workers who were questioned gave rather inventive explanations for taking time off. The death of a pet, not being able to stop watching a new TV show, and taking a sick day because it would be stupid not to when they still get paid were all given as genuine reasons for staying at home. However, 47% of those who admitted lying to their boss disclosed that a hangover was the real reason they didn’t go into work. 18% said that dreading work was a contributing factor, whilst 15% gave no reason.

With this in mind, employers are continually looking for ways to reduce the number of workers taking fake sick days. The use of computer software is one way to keep track of employee absence and is a sure fire way to spot any patterns. Director of Activ Absence, Adrian Lewis, who also helped to compile YouTube success ‘the silliest excuses for sickness’, says that this type of software can also act as a deterrent. Knowing that their manager can easily and quickly track employee absence may discourage those who were planning to pull a sickie as they know that it will not simply slip under the radar.

Not only will absence management software help managers see who frequently takes specific days off and help to prevent it, it will also help keep track of other trends which may show an underlying health concern. In 2015, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) advised that in the UK, more than a million people have suffered a work related illness. This accounts to 27 million working days lost through sickness, equating to the economy losing an estimated £13.4 billion.

Lewis also adds that return to work interviews are an effective way of helping discourage false sickness absences. Most employees would feel uncomfortable in obviously lying to their boss, so the thought of having an interview upon their return could be quite daunting and would therefore reduce the amount of workers taking unauthorised leave.

Absence data, plus the use of formal back to work processes, can help companies minimise and manage their employee sickness levels, saving them money in the long run.

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