Flexible Schedule Could Keep Workers from Playing Hooky

August 31, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A new global survey commissioned by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated reveals employees in counties all over the world, have all, to varying degrees, called in sick to work when they were not actually sick.

China led all other surveyed regions, with 71% of employees admitting to calling in sick when they were not actually sick. France had the smallest number with only 16%. Other countries polled included India with 62%, Australia with 58%, Canada with 52%, the U.S. with 52%, the UK with 43%, and Mexico with 38%.  

According to a press release, when asked why they have ever called in sick when they were not actually sick, the overwhelming response in every region was that employees felt stressed/needed a day off: 71% in Canada, 62% in the U.S., 60% in China, 57% in the UK, 53% in France, 51% in Australia, 46% in Mexico, and 44% in India. Other reasons selected included needing to take care of a sick child, having too heavy a workload, and not having enough paid leave.  

When asked what their employers could do to prevent them from calling in sick to work when they weren’t actually sick, the top response in every region but France was to offer employees the opportunity to work flexible hours. In France, employees said that summer Fridays – being offered the opportunity to take Fridays in the summer off and make them up during the week – would make the biggest impact. Being given the opportunity to work from home, and the opportunity to take unpaid leave, also rated high among employees around the world.   

A high percentage of employees in China (45%) also said that providing more paid time off to employees would make a difference – this was higher than in any other region: 38% in Canada, 34% in the U.S., 32% in the UK, 25% in Australia, 24% in India, 15% in France, and 12% in Mexico.

According to the Kronos Global Absence Survey, the top two activities in every region except India and Mexico were staying home and watching TV or staying in bed. In India and Mexico, staying home and watching TV was the top choice, but meeting up with friends and relatives was next on the list.   

The majority of employees in all regions said they were negatively impacted when co-workers call in sick, with the top reason being they had to take on the work or shift of the missing employee. The second reason in every region except Mexico and France was an increase in stress. Employees in Mexico and France don’t get stressed as much, but they do worry about things getting overlooked or forgotten.  

When asked whether or not their employers used an automated system to keep track of absences, only in Canada, China, and India did the majority – 53%, 56%, and 53%, respectively – of employees say yes. In all other regions the majority said no or that they don’t know.