Almost two thirds of UK managers believe that staff who are off work repeatedly should have their pay reduced.
Research by healthcare provider Bupa says that employers favour such a controversial measure because only one in three managers believes that staff who call in sick are genuinely ill.
The CBI estimates that the UK economy loses £1.7bn a year due to staff ‘throwing sickies’, and one in five of the 2,000 employees polled by Bupa admitted to having made up an excuse to take a day off work.
The issue is causing confusion for employers, with more than half of the 200 managers polled saying it is difficult to distinguish between what is a genuine illness and what is not.
But TUC general secretary Brendan Barber hit back at the claims. “The reality is that the UK has one of the lowest rates of absence in Europe and sickness rates have been coming down for the past 10 years,” he told Personnel Today.
Conscientious workers are also causing problems, according to the Bupa research. Almost four in 10 of the employees polled said they failed to take time off when they were too ill to work out of a sense of duty. This meant they had to take time out later to fully recover, or other colleagues got ill as a result.
The survey highlights the real importance of monitoring absence and its effect on the bottom line, said Ann Greenwood, director of business markets at Bupa. “Three-quarters of managers think employers should not get involved unless the employee is not better after several days.
“But if you manage absence from day one you will get employees back to work more quickly,” she said.