Over a third of SME employees take sick days when they shouldn’t

Research from insurance company Ellipse uncovers the real reasons for staff absences, with 24% of employees believing their employer doesn't know about every sick day they have taken

Over a third of SME employees take sick days when they shouldn't

Employee absence naturally has a negative impact on a business’s productivity. However, new research has revealed that many employers could be contributing to the recurring absence of their employees by not monitoring it closely enough.

A survey of 500 employees from UK SMEs, conducted by insurance company Ellipse, highlights that employers may be unaware of the real reasons that their staff are taking days off sick. Worryingly, over a third of respondents admitted to taking sick days when they shouldn’t. The study found that 22% of employees have had to take a sick day to look after a poorly child, despite being well themselves, with 6% admitting to taking a day off to care for an elderly relative. Furthermore, one in five employees said they have taken a day off after a night out, 12% revealed they had pulled a sickie to attend a job interview elsewhere and over a tenth said they have pretended to be sick the day before their absence, in order to make it more believable.

Just in case these stats weren’t surprising enough, there’s more reason for concern. The research goes on to reveal that almost a quarter of employees believe their employer doesn’t know about every sick day they have taken. And the reasons for this are put forward in a separate survey of 250 SME managers by Ellipse. Of those surveyed, 32% admitted their company doesn’t have a good enough process for recording absence.

“These decision makers may be missing recurring absence patterns, which would make it difficult for them to be aware of the reasons their employees are taking sick days,” said John Ritchie, CEO of Ellipse. “Recording absence in an online management system would allow employers to recognise absence patterns early on and discover the causes behind them. Employers could then provide support such as help with childcare or more flexible working hours to suit someone caring for an elderly relative. In turn, this would reduce future absence.”

So it’s worth remembering that there may be more to an employee absence than meets the eye.

Adam Pescod
Adam Pescod

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