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Lawyer: Less Sickies Expected On ‘National Sickie Day’

Job Worries Set To Impact On Trends


An employment law expert at Irwin Mitchell says employees worrying about their job security will mean the traditional ‘National Sickie Day’, when businesses see the most absenteeism, may not follow the usual pattern in 2011.

Year after year employers see a traditional peak in illness-related-absences on the first Monday in February when people are suffering from low morale because of high workloads combined with short daylight hours and post-Christmas gloom.

This year’s notorious National Sickie Day falls on Monday 7 February 2011 but employment law specialists are not expecting the usual pattern of absenteeism.

Glenn Hayes, a leading employment partner at Irwin Mitchell in Leeds, commented:  “The first Monday in February has traditionally been the worst day for people being off ill with the absence of hundreds of thousands of workers costing the economy millions of pounds in productivity. However, there is some room to be slightly more optimistic in 2011.

“Taking into consideration the fragility of the economy and the jobs market we expect to see less people taking time off sick so early on in the year. Employees are worried about their jobs and keen to prove their value to their bosses; while employers are keen to improve productivity and are becoming stricter with their workforce.

“Whilst it remains difficult for employers to challenge days ‘off sick‘ as being anything other than genuine without good evidence to the contrary, at a time when redundancies are looming (and absence may be a factor in any selection exercise for redundancy) or people are already on warnings, employers may see absenteeism as extra ‘ammunition’ when faced with making tough employment decisions.

“Employees will be well aware of this and it is expected that National Sickie Day may be consigned to the past in 2011 with absenteeism levels expected to be much lower than previous years.”

In 2010, an estimated 350,000 workers threw a sickie on the first Monday in February costing the economy around £30 million in lost business and productivity.

Glenn’s advice to businesses and employees is to be honest with each other. He said: “Businesses should have a clear policy established regarding sick leave so that employees know where they stand if they can’t make it into work.

“Absences from work need to be explained and the correct policies followed. Usually this means letting your managers know at the earliest opportunity that you are going to be absent and keeping them informed of the situation should things change. On returning to work it is not unusual for employees to be asked to explain their absence for example in a return to work interview with the relevant medical notes or in a formal or informal interview situation with their bosses.”

For further information contact Glenn Hayes.