China tops global poll of countries with staff most likely to 'pull a sickie' to watch sport

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With 17 days to go until Euro 2012, almost a quarter of employees have admitted to calling in sick to work to stay at home to watch sport, according to a global poll of more than 7,000 staff.

A global survey commissioned by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated and conducted by Harris Interactive found China led all surveyed regions with 58% of staff admitting pulling a sickie to watch sport, while in France only 1% percent answered yes.

Other countries polled included India with 48%, Mexico with 21%, Australia with 19%, Canada with 13%, and the US with 11%.

High numbers of respondents also said that they had called in sick the day after a sporting event because they were up late watching/attending it: 54% in China, 41% in India, 23%in the UK, 19% in Australia, 16% in Mexico, 9% in Canada, 7% in the US and 1% in France.

But the numbers of people who responded that they felt "at least somewhat guilty" were 92% in France, 90% in China, 85% in Mexico, 78% in India, 74% in Australia, 71% in the US, 64% in Canada, and only 63% in the UK.

In the UK, Australia, France, and Mexico, football took the top spot, for causing staff to miss work. In the US, it was American football, China was basketball, Canada was hockey, and India was cricket.

International Competition was also in the top three sports mentioned for six of the eight regions polled - only the US and India did it not rank as high.

And when it came to what employers could do to prevent employees from calling in sick when they are not actually sick, the top answer in every region was to allow employees to work flexible hours - this tied for first place with allowing employees to work from home in India. Allowing employees to take unpaid leave and establishing a benefit like summer Fridays were the other options chosen most frequently in every region.

Joyce Maroney, director of The Workforce Institute, Kronos, said: "Unscheduled absences cost organisations 8.7% of payroll each year - that's a significant cost.

"This survey indicates that sporting events of all kinds can be a trigger for unscheduled absences. Managers would do well to speak with employees when they know there is a big sporting event coming up to try to determine who is likely to be out. Planned absences cost organisations less because alternatives can be put in place at a less-than-premium price. An automated workforce management solution can enable smarter scheduling and also identify trends and patterns of absenteeism to help organisations be smart about controlling their labour expenses."

The study was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Kronos among a total of 7,302 adults aged 16-64 (5,793 of whom are employed full/part time) within Australia, Canada, China, France, Great Britain, India, and Mexico from April 11-17, 2012 via its Global Omnibus product.

In the US the the survey was conducted online. by Harris Interactive on behalf of Kronos from April 10-12, 2012 among 2,145 adults ages 18 and older, of whom 1,189 are employed full/part time.