As many as one in four people may have ‘pulled a sickie’ at some point within the last two years. That’s according to the results of a recent survey carried out in the UK by Cezanne HR.

The research, aimed at discovering workers’ attitudes to faking illness in order to take time off from work, revealed that 26% of employees have thrown a sickie in the last two years, with 1 in 14 confessing to have done it three or more times – and nearly half of employees reporting that they’d considered it.

Of the survey’s 500 respondents, women were marginally more likely to have used illness as an excuse for not going into work (64% v 62%), but men confessed to doing it more often.

The study also revealed that younger people are more likely to have pulled a sickie with 46% of 18-24 year olds saying they had done so, compared to 19% of 45-54 year olds.

When asked whether they felt it was acceptable to throw a sickie, 60% of those questioned said never, regardless of the circumstances, yet 15% of them had done it anyway!

32% felt it was acceptable only under certain circumstances, and 8% seemingly had no qualms with the practice, regardless of circumstance.

Sue Lingard, Marketing Director at Cezanne HR, says: “Company culture may be at the root of how employees actually behave. If even people who believe it’s unacceptable to pull a sickie still do so, it seems likely that they feel they can’t be honest about the real reason for needing time off work”.

The survey found that there is a great deal of sympathy for working parents and those with family responsibilities – with 64% of respondents saying they felt it would be acceptable to ‘pull a sickie’ if a child was sick, and 48% for other family reasons. Surprisingly, 16% of people felt it was OK to call in sick in order to attend an interview.

Sue Lingard went on to say: “While throwing a sickie may seem trivial, the reality is that it can be costly and disruptive for employers – not to mention unfair on colleagues who are left to pick up the slack.”

“Businesses that can find a way to help employees balance work and family commitments –for example, making it acceptable for employees to work from home, swap shifts with colleagues or make up time if they have an emergency, are likely to see positive impact not only on attendance, but on staff morale and engagement too.”

The survey also aimed to discover how sickness is reported. Of the 500 respondents, 81% said they report sickness by phone followed by 9% using email, 5% by text and 4% by online HR software.

See the infographic here

Sickies infographic