‘Skiving’ Study Puts Spotlight On Employers’ Sickness Policies

PwC Report Reveals Reasons Behind Lying To Take Time Off

19.07.2011

An employment law expert at Irwin Mitchell has called on businesses to review sickness absence policies after new research suggested more than one in three workers in the UK have admitted to ‘skiving’.

New research published by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has revealed that 34 per cent of employees have chosen to lie in order to take time off, with many choosing to due to feeling depressed with their working life.

Illness was found to be a common excuse used by many who skive, although the real reasons behind absence often included workers feeling they deserved time off and others needing to take sick days due to family matters.

Discussing the survey, Fergal Dowling, a Partner and employment law specialist at Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office, said companies should seriously consider their strategies to engage and prevent workers from lying to take sick leave.

He outlined: “PwC’s research highlights that absenteeism can cost up to £32 billion a year, so there is major scope to believe that businesses should not bury their head in the sand when it comes to the issue of ‘skiving’. Employers need to consider why such trends may be happening in their workplace and what they could do to reduce such instances.

“As the study highlights family as a popular reason for people to lie for time off work, it may be in the best interests of organisations which have not already to look at new working arrangements which will their members of staff more flexibility in order to meet their responsibilities both in and outside work.

“In addition, we would always urge businesses to ensure they have a clear policy in place when it comes to sick leave, as this can be vital in ensuring workers know where they stand and what is expected from them such scenarios.

“They should also consider strategies for after an absence, such as meetings with workers to discuss their leave in either a formal or informal setting. This gives workers a chance to explain their absence and provide medical notes or other evidence of their illness.”

Discussing the general issue of absence, Fergal added: “It is understandably difficult for employers to argue or challenge the genuine need for sick leave without evidence stating otherwise but it must be remembered that employers often use absence figures when considering criteria for potential redundancy.

“Considering the current economic climate and the number of firms making big decisions about the future, this may be something for workers to bear in mind when thinking about lying to take a day off sick.”