There’s a constant conflict between the importance of sick leave to retain staff, productivity and workforce health, and the fear that employees will misuse the privilege. A new survey reveals that many Canadian employees have used sick leave for days when they were healthy.
Kronos surveyed almost 800 workers about their habits and 54% reported they had called into work sick when they were not sick. However, if a “mental health day” was an option then 65% would qualify, saying they took the time because they felt stressed or burned out.
“When lost productivity and other operational expenses tied to employee absences are considered, the cost of absenteeism can impact as much as one-third of overall payroll costs,” Spiros Paleologos, Kronos Canada vice-president of operations, said. “Canadian organizations representing all sectors need to urgently adopt techniques to more effectively manage unplanned employee absences.”
The survey found marked differences in responses across the provinces. While 60% of Ontario respondents who admitted that they have faked calling in sick, just 49% of respondents from Quebec and western Canada admitted to doing the same.
Other than stress, the main reasons working Canadians cited for calling in sick included caring for a sick child, a too-heavy workload and insufficient paid vacation days.
However, don’t start requiring medical certificates for every sniffle just yet. Other research has found just 15% of sick leave is undeserved, and a recent survey from Canada Life found 93% of employees go to work despite being seriously ill.