Absenteeism: which day do your employees take sick leave? September 11th, 2013, by Ken Buckley

Tuesday is now the most popular day to take sick leave in Australia, according to a recent Australian survey.

With many employers now requiring medical certificates for absences on a Monday, many commentators are concluding that people are choosing to “chuck a sickie” on a Tuesday instead.

The survey found the most common reasons for absenteeism were:

  • Unexpected illness 83%
  • Carers leave 71%
  • Chucking a sickie 68%
  • Ongoing illness 48%
  • Mental ill-health (stress/depression/anxiety) 45%
  • Poor management of employee absence 38%
  • Type of work performed 27%
  • Low levels of physical well-being 24%
  • (e.g. unhealthy lifestyle)
  • Lack of engagement 22%
  • Lack of flexibility 13%
  • Transport difficulties 2%

Source: Direct Health Solutions

This shows that poor health is still the main reason for sick leave, as it should be. But it also reinforces what many employers already know: lack of engagement and motivation is a key factor in absenteeism too.

Australian sick leave

The Tuesday Test

The “Tuesday sickie” gives you a very quick and dirty analysis of your employees’ absenteeism habits.

Are your employees’ sick days relatively spread out across the week? Or are they clustered on a Monday or Tuesday? This could give you a rough guide as to whether your sick leave requests are genuine.

It’s also useful to compare your absentee rates to the Australian norm.

The average Australian employee is absent 8.9 days a year. Numbers are higher in larger organisations with over 1000 employees, with an average of 10.5 days.

If your rates are higher, it could well be a symptom of employee discontent: low engagement levels which could be due to anything from boring work to poor management to a dull or toxic culture.

While these are sobering stats for your organisation, they are great stats for you to validate your corporate health & wellness program. A best practice employee health program will not only reduce health-related absenteeism over time, but can increase overall employee engagement. A program which encompasses all aspects of an employee’s environment, including the workplace culture, can create a vibrant, active and inclusive feel that flows on to all aspects of employee engagement.

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