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Flexible benefits programme could help employees better manage their time off from work

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As Britain staggers its way through Christmas party season, 10% of UK workers admit to taking a ‘sickie’ or being hungover on their last ‘sick’ day off work, according to research from Aon Consulting. A total of just over 20% cited stress, depression, being hungover or taking a ‘sickie’ as the real reason for their last day off.

Cambridge is the UK’s ‘sickest’ city with over 20% of workers admitting to having feigned illness or been too hungover to face work, according to the survey of 4,046 respondents from across the UK. In contrast, the people of Portsmouth are the least likely (4%) to have ticked the hangover or ‘sickie’ box. Just over one in ten Londoners were not actually sick or were suffering from the night before on their last day off work.

The survey also revealed that colds and flu are the most common reason for absence (38%), while 11% of workers selected stress and/or depression and 7% cited fatigue.

The real reason for you last day off work

Taking a sickie or being hungover the real reason for the last day off work

Commenting on the research, Paul White, Head of Risk Benefits at Aon Consulting, said: “At this time of year, it is not surprising to see that many workers will be celebrating the end of a rollercoaster year, as they should. However, there is no need for employers to suffer as a result. Implementing a flexible benefits programme, where employees can buy and sell holiday, could help employees better manage their time off from work, and mean that ‘sickies’ are less common.’

“Hangovers aside, tackling sickness absence is becomingly increasingly important to organisations who seek to manage their costs. It has been a difficult year and employers must be aware that they have a responsibility to care for their workers. Companies are quite rightly addressing cases of stress and depression and further Aon research* shows that flu jabs and stress management are now the most popular wellness initiatives offered by companies.

“Organisations should clearly communicate the range of wellbeing benefits they provide for their staff, and employees should start taking advantage of the many benefits offered by their employers.”

*: The Aon Consulting Employee Benefits and Trends Report 2009
The research offers insight into what employers are doing now and what actions they plan to take in the future on DC pensions, health and risk benefits and flexible benefits. The 2009 report polled 650 employers on various issues relating to employee benefits and pensions.