Calling in sick when you just want a day off is a real issue in the UK

Duvet day, anyone?

sick day

Duvet day, anyone?

If you called work to say you're ill this morning when you're actually fine, you are officially pulling a sickie. And according to a new BBC survey, that's not uncommon in Brits at all. Oops.

The survey shows that up to 40 per cent of workers in Britain would, erm, claim a duvet day if they wanted a break. That's two in five adults. The UK-wide survey questioned 3,655 adults aged over 16, and found the most common reasons for calling off work in 2018 were the common cold, musculoskeletal problems (like back pain), mental health conditions and 'other' problems. Perhaps unsurprisingly, sickness due to not being truthful was not included in the government's statistics.

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The average worker takes about four sick days a year, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Chris Southworth, Secretary General of the International Chambers of Commerce, told the BBC, 'What this points to is the importance of trust within business to promote a positive, healthy place to work, and how that has a positive impact on people's wellbeing. Good, responsible businesses are those that are well led, they promote good values and ethical behaviour.'

As well as faking sickies, employees are often also prepared to cover for colleagues who they know might be faking it. The survey found that 66 per cent would not tell bosses if they knew their colleagues were absent, but not ill.

Hayley Lewis, an occupational psychologist, said if the relationship between bossa and employee is bad, staff will tend to be less truthful. She expanded, 'People don't leave an organisation - they leave their boss - goes the saying. Also, people can be influenced by their boss' behaviour.'

She added, 'We look to role models. If the boss is dragging themselves in, not taking breaks, eating lunch at their desk, it reinforces the message that it is not okay to take a break.'

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Interestingly, one question put in the survey was, 'would you take praise from a boss for work that somebody else has done?' The answer: men are twice as likely as women to accept that praise. Shocking, we know.

And while younger staff lied more often than their elders, they were also more willing to stand up for colleagues.The younger the employee, the more likely they were to speak up for women in the workplace, for example by intervening if they saw a male boss touch a female employee on the back during a meeting. 70 per cent of younger adults would report or intervene if a senior figure in a company made sexual comments towards a younger colleague, less than half of people over 55 would do the same.

Finally, the study revealed that UK employees work longer hours than our EU counterparts like Ireland or Norway, but they are not as productive. And we leave you with this: almost a third said they stole work supplies like staplers and notebooks. Guilty. As. Charged.

Olivia – who rebranded as Liv a few years ago – is a freelance digital writer at Marie Claire UK. She recently swapped guaranteed sunshine and a tax-free salary in Dubai for London’s constant cloud and overpriced public transport. During her time in the Middle East, Olivia worked for international titles including Cosmopolitan, HELLO! and Grazia. She transitioned from celebrity weekly magazine new! in London, where she worked as the publication’s Fitness & Food editor. Unsurprisingly, she likes fitness and food, and also enjoys hoarding beauty products and recycling.