PERKBOX UNBOXES: Lack of consistency in sick leave policies contributing to ‘sickie’ culture


80 per cent of UK working Brits have pulled a sickie over the last year, new research commissioned by Perkbox, Europe’s fastest growing employee experience platform, reveals. Over half weren’t asked for proof of sickness (57 per cent) and of those who were, consequences were as diverse as getting fired (one in 10), a formal warning (one in five) or no implications at all (one in three).

When asked how they communicated this to their managers, one in five said they’d simply email, 80 per cent called and 16 percent WhatsApped – an average that’s slightly higher in London and Manchester at around 25 per cent. However, only eight per cent said they would log it into their HR reporting system and some would even go as far as reporting their sickness to their managers over Facebook Messenger.

44 per cent of those surveyed believe the ‘sickie’ culture may be heightened by employees who have a zero work ethic and are abusing the system. After all, nearly one in 10 of those who were asked for proof of sickness last year faked it and nearly a quarter believe having an awful relationship with their managers and/or colleagues may be a key reason why this behaviour arises in the first place.

On the flip side, nearly half of those polled believe the reason why employees pull sickies is because they are unhappy, depressed and overworked in their current jobs or in their private lives. Yet 12 per cent say pulling sickies has resulted in a complete loss of their employer’s trust, making the situation worse. Perhaps that’s why 14 per cent of those who got caught last year, decided to confess the truth.

Hannah Sims, Product Manager at Perkbox Medical says: “UK employees aren’t hard wired to be deceptive, or to skive off work. “Sickies” result from a lack of engagement in the work employees do or in the business they work for, and are often telling of more serious issues.

“Having and enforcing a clear sick leave policy not only makes legal sense and allows you and your business to track absenteeism, it also means you can keep a pulse of your company’s health and signal to employees that you take their wellbeing seriously and are always looking for ways to proactively help them.”

Here are this year’s sickie excuses ranked from ‘most brilliant’ (1) to ‘most appalling’ (10), according to the working Brits polled by Perkbox:


Rank Sickie Excuse
1 I fell over in the shower and knocked myself out
2 My partner threw the TV remote at me last night and I chipped my tooth
3 I fell down the stairs and broke my coccyx (added implication – can’t sit)
4 I thought it was Saturday today
5 I accidentally ate cat food instead of tuna and fell terribly ill
6 My doctor’s appointment was delayed by 2, then 4, then 8 hours. Then finally when it was my turn I was in the toilet so I kept waiting…
7 I got lucky last night and didn’t know where I was in the morning
8 I needed a day to catch-up on Brexit deals and learn how to apply for permanent residency. It’s for the company’s sake too you know!
9 I dreamt I was at work. As I thought I was there I just stayed asleep

I had a bad dream and needed the day to recover