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Global absence: Chinese staff most likely to pull a 'sickie', find Kronos and Harris Interactive

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When it comes to unscheduled absences, China has the highest percentage globally.

The research from the Workforce Institute at Kronos conducted by Harris Interactive

looks at which regions have the highest rates of absenteeism, how the rest of the workforce is affected when employees call in sick, and what employers can do to better manage the problem.

China led all other surveyed regions with 71% of employees admitting to calling in sick when they were not actually sick. France had the smallest number with only 16%.

Other countries polled included India with 62%, Australia with 58%, Canada with 52%, the US with 52%, the UK with 43%, and Mexico with 38%.

When asked why they have ever called in sick, the overwhelming response in every region was that employees felt stressed/needed a day off: 71% in Canada, 62% in the US, 60% in China, 57%in the UK, 53% in France, 51% in Australia, 46% in Mexico, and 44% in India.

Other reasons selected included needing to take care of a sick child, having too heavy a workload, and not having enough paid leave. <π>The top two activities in every region except India and Mexico were staying home and watching TV or staying in bed. In India and Mexico, staying home and watching TV was the top choice, but meeting up with friends and relatives was next on the list. <π>When asked what their employers could do to prevent them from calling in sick to work when they weren't actually sick, the top response in every region but France was to offer employees the opportunity to work flexible hours.

In France, employees said that summer Fridays - being offered the opportunity to take Fridays in the summer off and make them up during the week - would make the biggest impact. Being given the opportunity to work from home, and the opportunity to take unpaid leave, also rated high among employees around the world.

In China 45% also felt providing more paid time off to employees would make a difference - this was higher than in any other region (32% in the UK).

Joyce Maroney, director of The Workforce Institute, Kronos, said: "This survey provides a fascinating look at the issue of absenteeism around the world. It is interesting to see both the many similarities between regions and the marked differences also. Employers everywhere can learn from this survey - about the problem of absenteeism and the possible fixes - from providing more flexible work arrangements, where possible, to enabling employees to work from home."

Unscheduled absences, when an employee calls in sick at the last minute, cost organizations 8.7% of payroll each year as discussed in a recent survey conducted by Mercer and sponsored by Kronos.

The Kronos Global Absence survey was conducted online within the US from 19-21 July, 2011 among 2,293 adults (aged 18 and over), of whom 1,209 are employed full-time and/or part time; within Canada from 18-25 July, 2011 among 1,006 adults (aged 18 and older) of whom 538 are employed full-time and/or part-time; and within the UK, France, Australia, Mexico, China, and India from 9-27 July, 2011 among 6,153 adults (aged 16 and older) of whom 4,860 are employed full-time and/or part-time, by Harris Interactive on behalf of Kronos via its Quick Query omnibus product, the Harris Decima Canada online omnibus, and the Global omnibus product.