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Workers are more likely to be sick on Monday than any other day of the week

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More than a third of all sick leave is taken on a Monday, according to research by Mercer.

Mercer, which analysed the sickness management records for 11,000 individual employees across a range of private-sector organisations, found that 35% of all sick leave is taken on a Monday, with attendance on the remaining working days becoming higher as the week goes on. Fridays account for only 3% of sickness absence during the working week.

The survey also revealed that January is the month with the highest level of sickness absence, with an average of half a day per person for the month. During the whole of 2008, 13 of the 20 most popular days for sickness absence occurred in January. On 3 and 4 January, nearly 5% of the total employee population was ‘sick'.

Phiroze Bilimoria, client manager at Mercer, said: "Monday sickness and frequent short-term absences can be a symptom of low employee engagement and morale within certain teams or departments. Once identified, companies can take measures to try and address this."

The most common cause of absence was musculo-skeletal problems. It accounted for nearly a quarter of all days lost (24%). Other common causes were cold, flu and other viral infections, which accounted for 17% of days of absence. The period of absence in each case was generally small in comparison with stress, which tends leads to long-term absence but with a low incidence rate (4%)).
 
Another interesting revelation was that 24% more days were taken by female workers than by their male colleagues. Absence rates among women were more than twice as high as for men in instances of stress-related illness, exhaustion and depression. By contrast, muscle sprains, fractures and other physical injuries sustained by men account for at least double the absence rates among women.

Recent developments in systems and processing mean that absenteeism can now be accurately monitored and employers have access to detailed information on the causes and duration of absence together with the cost to the company. "Having this information enables organisations to intervene before illnesses turn into disabilities and avoid the higher risks of long-term lost productivity, claims and litigation that can these present," said Bilimoria.