‘Sick leave’ mainly taken on Mondays and in January

One in three sick days tends to fall on a Monday and more days are lost to absence in January than any other month, consultancy Mercer has suggested.

In an analysis of sickness management records for 11,000 employees, Mercer concluded that January was, by far, the month with the highest level of sickness absence, with sick leave averaging half a day per person for the month.

A total of 35% of all sick leave was taken on a Monday, with attendance on the remaining working days becoming higher as the week progresses. Fridays were least likely to be taken as sick leave, and accounted for only 3% of sickness absence during the working week.

The most common recorded cause of absence was musculoskeletal problems, in the form of strain or injury to bones, muscles and joints – accounting for nearly a quarter of all days lost.

Other common causes were stress-related illness, and cold, flu and other viral infections – both accounting for 17% of sickness absence.

The survey found that 12% of working days lost were due to food poisoning and other gastric problems, while cancer accounted for just 2% of absence, and female workers took 24% more days off sick than their male counterparts.

Phiroze Bilimoria, a client manager at Mercer, said: “Monday sickness and frequent short-term ­absence 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.”

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