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Bosses Brace Themselves Record Numbers Throw Sickie

Monday, 07 February 2011

Bosses are increasingly taking their eye off the ball and allowing staff to get away with avoiding work - paving the way for record numbers of Brits phoning in sick today (Feb 7).

Research by business advisors, ELAS, suggests that Post-Christmas blues, wintry weather, credit card bills and a long wait until the next holiday all make the first Monday in February the day Brits are most likely to phone in sick.

This year, a combination of low morale, the worst flu outbreak in a decade and managers' lenience on minor points of procedure mean as many as 375,000 workshy staff are expected to "pull a sickie" today - at a cost to the economy of £32 million.

Peter Mooney, head of consultancy at ELAS, said: "It's understandable that managers, up to their eyeballs in ensuring their business will survive a challenging environment, take their eye off the ball a little when it comes to procedure.

"But what they are finding is that if you give some staff an inch, they will take a mile and allowing workers to text in sick, for example, is an open invitation to some people to pull the wool over your eyes and grant themselves some free time off.

"With morale at rock bottom thanks to nearly three years of working in a stuttering economy, and with the worst flu outbreak in a decade providing a handy alibi, we expect absenteeism to soar this winter.

"And on no day will that be as obvious as today, with hundreds of thousands of workers across Britain ringing in sick for one reason or another."

ELAS estimates that as many as 375,000 UK workers will "throw a sickie" today, with around half of bosses admitting to not believing those who complain of being ill.

When taking into account the lost work and business opportunities, together with the cost of salaries and overtime payments, today's absenteeism could cost UK Plc more than £32 million.

Mr Mooney warns that employers are unwittingly making it easier for workshy staff.

"Businesses in all sectors are still having to perform magic tricks at the moment just to keep going, so the prospect of a costly legal battle is yet another reason to turn a blind eye once or twice.

"Meanwhile, more and more bosses have drifted into accepting text messages and emails as confirmation that staff will not be heading into work - making it much easier for staff to get away with taking a duvet day."