Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Sick Days: Who Really Needs Them?

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Sick Days: Who Really Needs Them?

Article excerpt

Byline: AMY WILLIAMS

THIS month's statistics from the CBI revealed that 13 per cent of sick days are taken illegitimately, and that " sickies " lose the UK economy around [pounds sterling] 13 billion a year. While managers may rush to brainstorm ways to prevent abuse of sick pay, experts have been quick to advise against placing too much importance on these figures.

Peter Jones, an employment expert at law firm Browne Jacobson, comments: "I'm not sure exactly how they have researched these statistics, because you wonder if people are faking illness, would they ever admit to it? It's a very tricky thing to monitor. While one person may think having tickly cough warrants a genuine sick day, others will wait till they are on a hospital ward until they take a day off work."

Mr Jones continued: "The loss of [pounds sterling]13 billion is undoubtedly cause for concern, but what the CBI research also shows is that 87 per cent of people who take time off work apparently do so for good reason. Concentrating interest on the fakers is a rather negative outlook, but there are ways that companies can try and lessen the number of false sick days taken within their firm."

Improving the environment, working hours and overall culture of a workplace, thus making it a more appealing environment for employees, is crucial.

Also vital is changing or clarifying sick-pay policy, according to Mr Jones.

"Firms can operate statutory sick pay, whereby workers go unpaid for the first three days they take off - this can help prevent people taking occasional days when they feel a bit sniffly, but allows for people to receive pay if they are sick enough to warrant a longer period off work."

Clearly, it is also important that companies recognise genuine illness, so that employees feel comfortable taking time away rather than feeling obliged to drag themselves into the office coughing and spluttering - a situation which benefits no one. …

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