Obese smokers take more sick leave, employees believe

More than half of employees believe overweight employees who smoke are the worst offenders for taking excessive time off work, according to a survey.

Research by pension providers Aon Consulting found that 57% of respondents to a poll of 1,300 working adults said they think smokers took more than acceptable levels of absence from work, pipping obese workers at 56%.

Further, more than one third of workers polled said older workers were notorious for unauthorised time off work. But nearly the same amount (35%) felt their boss recorded less than the average number of absences.

“While there are health reasons why employers should help their workforce either to quit smoking or lose weight, from a financial point of view it is in the best interest of businesses to implement programmes aimed at assisting this,” said Alex Bennett, Aon’s head of health consulting. “Extra days off work means lost productivity, which hurts the bottom line.”

“Recent studies in the Netherlands showed that seriously obese employees and those who smoke are demonstrably absent from work more often than employees of normal weight and non-smokers. Indeed not only do they report in absent more frequently, but they remain absent for longer too,” Bennett added.

Nearly half of all respondents (45%) felt those practicing flexible working were more responsible about taking leave compared with their peers.

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