Faking an illness? Did you know it costs the SME economy £900 million?

posted by 4 years ago in News

Employees that are within small to medium-sized businesses who are taking sick days off for illnesses that are not real are costing the SME economy a mass of £900 million. According to research conducted by Opinium breathHR, found that at least one in seven employees have revealed that they have taken a day off and blamed it on a fake illness – on average 3 times a year.

Of the 1,500 SME employees and owners surveyed, 42% have claimed a sick day because they felt they needed the rest, while 46% are using their entitled holidays. 51% of business owners admitted to getting in touch with their employees who are off sick as 72% of them believe their employees should still work with illnesses such as the common cold.

CEO at breathHR, Johnathan Richards comments;

“We’re facing a costly absence epidemic. At a time when the government is attempting to decipher the ‘productivity puzzle,’ over two million people are calling in sick when they are in fact not. Imagine if that number was halved, what uptick in economic performance would that deliver to the UK economy and SMEs?

“Absence has a big impact on small companies, but it’s an area that is often overlooked or poorly managed. With the right support tools in place, SMEs can reduce business admin and free up more time to create a culture where sickies simply don’t occur. The report shines a light on how absence impacts employees, employers and the wider business ecosystem.

“The results are striking for how contradictory we are as people: employees aren’t taking their full holiday allowance but then phone in sick in order to have a ‘rest day,’ and then check emails avidly. Unintentionally managers at small businesses are creating a culture where it is expected that employees are always available. So, what does this all mean for productivity?

“Business owners need to consider how their behaviour impacts others. Just because you’re happy to be contacted on holiday, doesn’t mean that should become the established norm. The impact is snowballing – again leading to absence in the form of preventable sickness – which costs business in terms of needing to invest in both cover and productivity.”

Head of Business Finance, Laura Thomas explains;

“£900million is a huge figure that SMEs could be risking due to unauthorised absence. However, a recent survey by Aviva UK Health suggested often employees will continue to attend work when unwell, so it’s finding the balance. Striking and maintaining the right culture in the workplace is of utmost importance. Ensure employees know expectations around absence, that they are comfortable to inform you if ill but also aware of consequences if found to be faking it.”