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Fake ‘sickies’ on the increase

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Increasing numbers of employees are ‘throwing a sickie’ according to a new survey – and more employers are disciplining them, even though they admit it’s difficult to spot the difference.

Peninsula BusinessWise found that in the year to September 2006, 84 per cent of employees admitted to pulling a non-genuine ‘sickie’, compared to 79 per cent in the year to September 2004.

In 2005/6 74 per cent of employers had to discipline staff for poor attendance, up from 68 per cent in 2003/4.

But 98 per cent of employers say it’s difficult to distinguish between genuine and non-genuine sickness.

Peter Done, managing director of Peninsula BusinessWise, said: “This survey highlights the issues faced by employers concerning non-genuine absence.

“Sickness and absence are always sensitive matters, and come in two forms — the genuine and non-genuine. In both cases the manner in which you handle the situation is going to depend on how strong your evidence is.

“It doesn’t matter how capable or otherwise a member of staff is, if they are not present at work – they are no use to an employer.

“An employee who takes a period of sickness absence when he or she is not sick is committing fraud and theft.”

To counter absenteeism businesses are increasingly monitoring workers’ attendance records.

Not only are the duration of the absences monitored but the amount of days accumulated and the days of the week involved. Often a pattern emerges, in terms of taking Mondays or Fridays off to make a longer weekend.

Done continued: “Employee absence causes problems for employers. Regardless of whether they are paid for the absence or not, their workload has to be covered somehow and that may involve putting the extra burden on another employee, or bringing another person in to temporary fill the role.”

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