Lure of the long weekend is a myth

Extended weekends only contribute marginally to working days lost because of
sickness absence, according to a study by doctors in Finland.

The researchers at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health studied
27,541 permanent, full-time municipal staff between 1993 and 1997.

The study finds that 3.4 per cent of the male and 5 per cent of the female
employees will be on sick leave on any one day.

The mean rate of sickness absence is lowest on Mondays, after which it
increases towards Wednesday then remains on the same level for the rest of the

When it comes to taking a single day off sick, which represents 4.5 per cent
of the total sickness absenteeism in the sample, the rates for Mondays and
Fridays were 1.4 and 1.9 times greater than those for other weekdays.

But these rates account for less than 1 per cent of all days lost because of
sickness absenteeism, says the report.

"Extended weekend absences were more common in men, young employees,
and those in a low socio-economic position, and they varied between
towns," the report concludes.

Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2001; 58:818-822 ( December )

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