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Younger workers significantly more likely to 'pull a sickie' than older colleagues, according to Kronos

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A survey published this week by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated and conducted by Harris Interactive reveals that 43% of UK employees admit to having called in sick to work when they were not actually sick.

Significant numbers of employees admit to calling in sick to work when they are not actually ill. In the UK, 43% of adults admit to calling in sick when not sick. This figure increases significantly for the 16-24 age group, with 65% admitting to bogus sick days, compared with just 25%of the 55-64 age group admitting the same and 40 percent of the 25-30 age group.

The Kronos Absence Survey looks at what employees are doing with this extra leisure time, how the rest of the workforce is affected when employees call in sick and what employers can do to better manage the problem. Kronos has also created a video looks at the issue of absenteeism - not just in the UK, but around the world. <π>When asked why they had ever called in sick when they were not actually sick, the overwhelming response was that employees felt stressed and needed a day off. In the UK, 25% of respondents have taken a sick day when feeling stressed. Again, the figures were highest for the 16 - 24 age group at 34 percent and lower for the 55 - 64 age group at 14%. Other reasons for taking a day off sick included having to look after a sick child, having too heavy a workload and running out of paid leave.

So how did they spend their day off? The top two activities were staying at home and watching TV or staying in bed: on average 50% of respondents took time off work to stay at home and watch TV, with 69% of 16 - 24 year olds choosing to spend a sick day in this way. 44% have stayed in bed on a bogus sick day; 29% had to take care of a sick child, 16% of respondents met with friends and relatives; 16% have used the time for a shopping trip and 9% went to a sporting event.

When asked what their employers could do to prevent them from calling in sick when they were not really sick, the top response was to offer employees the opportunity to work flexible hours: 50% of respondents would like flexible hours; 39% would like the opportunity to take unpaid leave; 33% would like the option to work from home occasionally; 32% think that more paid leave was the answer and 27% would like the chance to take 'duvet days' - days that could be taken as leave at short notice.

Just over half of those surveyed (51%) said they were negatively affected when colleagues called in sick with the top reason being that they have to take on the workload of the missing employee. The second reason at 25% was an increase in stress levels. <π>When asked if employers use an automated system to keep track of absences, 45% responded yes, 31% responded no and 19% didn't know. Simon Macpherson, senior director, operations, EMEA at Kronos, said:"This survey provides a fascinating look at the issue of absenteeism both in the UK and around the world. Employers everywhere can learn from this survey - about the problem of absenteeism and the possible fixes - from providing more flexible working arrangements to enabling employees to work from home." The Kronos Global Absence survey was conducted online within the US between July 19-21, 2011 among 2,293 adults (aged 18 and over), of whom 1,209 are employed full-time and/or part time; within Canada between July 18-25, 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 between July 19-27, 2011 among 6,153 adults (aged 16 and older) of whom 4,860 are employed full-time and/or part-time, by Harris Interactive. <π>