Accountants' research shows 25% region's workers take sickies

North East employees are least likely to pull a sickie - but a quarter still do, according to PwC research

Bill Macleod, Senior Partner of PwC, Newcastle Upon Tyne
Bill Macleod, Senior Partner of PwC, Newcastle Upon Tyne

North East workers are least likely to ‘pull a sickie’ according to research by PwC.

A quarter of employees in the North East admits to having pulled a sickie, but this is by far the lowest of the UK regions, with Londoners topping the list with 43% admitting to taking sick days, followed by 36% in the North West.

Popular reasons in the North East ranged from having a hangover (19%), family responsibilities (40%), interviewing for another job (28%) and good weather (14%).

Illness is by far the most common reason given with 50% in the region using it as an excuse.

PwC’s research, based on a consumer survey of over 2,000 UK adults and data gathered from 2,500 global companies, also shows that sick days are costing organisations in the UK over £23bn a year.

Cost of sick days to UK organisations


But a large proportion of the sick bill is preventable as people lying or exaggerating to take time off work is costing £9bn a year.

Sick days still account for the majority of absence and make up 87% of the overall absence bill to organisations in the UK.

Bill MacLeod, senior partner at PwC in Newcastle, said: “The combination of better weather and major sporting events may mean that the temptation to lie to take time off work to watch sport is too much for some.

“Organisations could easily reduce the knock-on impact on their workers’ productivity levels by offering flexible working or allowing them to watch key matches in the office.

“Our research shows that when it comes to reducing absence levels, carrot rather than stick is the best approach. Having a flexible working culture can go a long way to breaking the cycle of people feeling that they are entitled to days off outside of their holiday allowance and encouraging better engagement. The change in law that means anyone now has the right to request flexible working should help more people achieve the work/life balance they need without impacting on organisations’ productivity.”

In the North East, 24% of those surveyed said a flexible working approach is the measure that would most likely put them off from pulling a ‘sickie’, along with initiatives such as duvet days with 8% saying these schemes would put them off pulling a sickie.

PwC analysis of over 2,500 global companies shows that the UK’s overall sickness bill (including genuine and made-up illness) has fallen to £23bn from £29bn a year ago. Despite this positive trend, UK workers still take nearly triple the amount of sick days as their global counterparts in Asia Pacific (4.8 days) and nearly double the US (3.8 days).

Central and Eastern Europe has the highest level of sick days at an average of 8.3 a year.


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