Headlines: August 8th, 2008

Top executives across the UK believe that half of the lost working days due to sickness are not genuine. The survey by MidlandHR and FirstCare, also found that some staff still look on a paid sick leave allowance as an extension of their annual holiday entitlement.

The key finding of the survey ‘Absence Management – ten years on’ that half of absences are not genuine conflicts with the more conservative figure of 13 per cent suggested by the CBI survey. The difference could be explained by a different group of organisations providing data. Only organisations with accurate methods of recording absence are able to complete the CBI survey.

The survey posed many of the questions first asked in a similar survey ten years ago and the results show that there has been little improvement since 1998. Today, more than two-thirds of respondents, 69 per cent, say they think some people abuse sick leave, treating it as additional holiday. This is an increase of 1 per cent compared with 68 per cent ten years ago.

Nearly a quarter of those questioned don’t seem particularly concerned because they see tracking absence as unimportant. Ten years ago only 2% would have agreed. This could indicate that organisations are merely playing lip service to absence monitoring. The public sector seems to see absence monitoring as less important than the private sector where 79 per cent consider tracking sickness as quite or very important compared to 63 per cent in the public sector.

Just over half of respondents have quite or very high confidence in the accuracy of their absence monitoring system with the public sector having less confidence than the private sector and large organisations less confidence than smaller organisation. Ten years ago 94 per cent believed that their sickness leave records were fairly or very accurate.