More than one in 10 workers is planning a "sickie" this month, even though they are not ill.
The Developing Patient Partnerships found that some 60% of workers said they were likely to take a day off sick with ailments such as colds and hangovers,
And rather going to doctors, health advisors recommend workers visit their local pharmacists for most minor ailments to get them back on their feet.
Will you be taking a "sickie" this month? What excuses have you used in the past? Tell us what you think about sick days?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Everyone understands the concept of a 'sickie' even your boss! Tell me he's never taken one in his life? It's all about balance like everything. If you put extra in to your job but they won't let you take a bit out, then perhaps you need to have a quiet word, not just with your employer but with yourself.
Ant, Amsterdam Netherlands
I have worked for a large American company for the last ten years. For the first 2 years I never took a sickie as i enjoyed my job and was rewarded for extra effort. Since then the company has taken on riskier projects (thus needing more hours to be worked) and bonus payments to employees have been stopped. I have no problems taking bogus sickies if my company persists in exploitation.
Anon, North Wales
Having been head of HR for a major bank subsidiary, all those people who think they can take sickies and it not get noticed are being very naive. Most large companies monitor sick leave and the patterns of the leave on a monthly basis. Next time you don't get a pay rise, promotion or bonus or when your name heads the redundancy list when your companies having a clear out, think back to your glib comments on this page.
It is amazing to see how brainwashed some people are. Your company does not own you! No matter how hard you work, if they feel like getting rid of you, they will. Take Sickies, there are thousands of cases out there of people having worked themselves out of marriages, missed seeing their kids grow up and then been made redundant while the CEO gets a multi million pound bonus for his three day week. If a company that I work for treats me badly, I reciprocate with sick days and leaving with no notice. If a company treats me well, I reciprocate with unpaid overtime.
When they come to nail down the lid on your coffin, will anyone be shouting "Stop - I wish I'd been to work for a few more days?" I doubt it. Like it or not, you're just a number. If they want to get rid of you, you're out. Life isn't about work.
The systems of the world are designed in such a way that one can never be rich by working for somebody. Why should one kill oneself by being at work everyday, every time and always. Take advantage of everything that can give you a second, legally, from work. If it is a minute given the better. People are poor world over because they are employees. One increases ones chances of making it in life by being away from work and doing something for oneself.
Paida Mlambo, Harare, Zimbabwe
I work for a very large organisation; I feel the way Staff sickness is challenged is poor. We do make it too easy for staff to go sick and at the same time punish those with a good attendance pattern.
Terry, Clevedon, North Somerset
If I ever take a sick day (and I've had 4 in the last 3 years) it's for my mental rather than my physical health. Working in a mind-numbing admin job at a computer all day is not good for your spirit. Having a day off when you know all your colleagues are in the office is ten times more relaxing than the weekend when you feel like you have to make the most of it before Monday comes. The work gets done on my return the next day, so I don't see the problem. I sometimes work through lunch, or do unpaid overtime - so to the people who think I am 'stealing' - I feel I am merely evening things out somewhat.
I'm well aware that I am exploited and under-paid by my employers, but that does not mean I am going to respond by stealing. You see, I have standards and principles which I don't simply shed whenever convenient. If I ever do have to take time off for illness, I should not have to tolerate colleagues tarring me with their own brush and implying I have "pulled a sickie, nudge nudge wink wink" when I return.
Sayonara, Leeds, UK
Unfortunately for me, I was brought up with a strong work ethic and I feel guilty for taking days off when I am genuinely ill! I always feel like people will think I'm skiving. The closest I've come to pulling a "sickie" in recent years is when I've taken a day off when I've felt ill, but possibly not ill enough (in my own mind) to justify staying home from work - I felt extra guilty on those occasions! Though I was probably doing the right thing by not spreading my germs to everyone else in the office. To be honest, the company does not treat it's staff well, with crummy pay rises and under-staffing, but this doesn't stop me feeling guilty if I'm off work...
Alison, Leeds, UK
Why do we have to work anyway? Surely the inventor of the robots thought that one day his (or hers) creation would one day free humanity. Not going to happen in my lifetime I know, but I would like my future grandchild to have the option of not working. Maybe he/she could write a book or, god forbid, even read one.
I recommend taking all leave that one is entitled to - including sick days, especially if they do not carry over to next year. After all, why should I be punished for taking good care of myself?
Until managers realise that unnecessary sickness is primarily a management issue (how workers are treated) and not a health issue, this problem will continue. It is endemic in the Health Service because the staff are now treated so badly.
Dr R Scott-Watson, Fairfield, UK
I'm a student, but it's likely I will deliberately miss lectures this term. Getting up for 9am has never been a strong point of mine, especially in the depths of winter where its better to curl up in bed listening to the heaven rain thrash against the window.
I only take sick leave when I'm genuinely ill (2 days in total throughout my working life). Mind you, I struggle to take all my paid leave (30 days plus bank holidays) so there would be little point in taking sick leave unnecessarily.
Sarah, Cambridge, UK
It is amazing to see how brainwashed some people are. Your company does not own you! No matter how hard you work, if they feel like getting rid of you, they will. Take Sickies, there are thousands of cases out there of people having worked themselves out of marriages, missed seeing their kids grow up and then been made redundant while the CEO gets a multi million pound bonus for his 3 day week. If a company that I work for treats me badly, I reciprocate with sick days and leaving with no notice. If a company treats me well, I reciprocate with unpaid overtime
Gosh there are an awful lot of perfect people posting comments here! Personally, as an ordinary person, I have grabbed the occasional sickie - about four in the last four years. But since I have, in the same period, worked many late nights and weekends (no overtime pay), and have always done the work required, I consider that no harm-no foul. It's a bit much to expect working hours to get longer and longer without something giving somewhere, and I don't consider it my prime duty to make my employers ever richer at the expense of my own life. Business is there to make our lives better, not the other way around.
Maybe if employers were to treat us better, and less like mindless slaves, then there would be no need to take extra days off. What really worries me, and should do others is the fact that we as a nation care about how much time we take off for the sake of those employers richer and better off than us anyway. We can't argue with them when they pop out for a game of golf, and a business 'meeting' in the pub, but this country now worries about how much we are costing them when we do take a day off for being overworked and underpaid.
How about a report finding out how many people lost out on bonuses over the past year whilst their companies announced bigger and better profits?
Elly, Colchester, England
Public sector = skivers. Strange how public sector have a proven record of nearly 4x sick leave compared to the private sector; the latter too worried of losing their jobs. Public sector workers regard it their "right" to skive off to make up for being poorer paid. As a temp who only gets paid for work I've done, I've been amazed when I've had to cover public sector workers off sick on full pay sometimes for over a year! If it was the private sector they would have been fired.
Taking sick leave when you are not sick is the same as stealing from the company. You deserve to be fired. That way you can have as much time off as you want.
If I haven't "used up" my sick days by the end of the working year I'll gladly use them for a few extra days paid holiday. Otherwise they'd be a terrible waste!
Tests have proven that many people get sick when on holiday due to the normal pressure not being there. To counter this you should take as many sickies as you have regular holidays so you don't loose out!
In Sweden you don't get paid for the first day that you are off sick. After that you go on to a so-called "sick-rate" of pay. This deters most people from taking the odd sick day.
Simon, Sweden (UK)
Hangovers? An ailment? I don't think so - entirely self inflicted, and anyone who takes a sickie after a hangover should have a written warning from their employer. We are breeding a nation of skivers who think that just because they are a bit tired; their employer should pay for them to stay in bed. Wake up and smell the roses people.
James Hughes, St Ives, UK
Wish I could use, "I'm sick of work" as an excuse.
Janet Paulin, Philippines/Australia
I think our employers overestimate the amount of control they have over us. It should be the case that if I'm not willing to work for a day or so I don't get paid. No questions asked, rather than them paying sick pay then holding it against us. People should provide a doctors note if they want to be paid for time off. And if the want time off with no pay then there's no problem.
The best way to combat flu is to regularly eat lots of fresh fruit and veg., and take a 20 minute walk each day, irrespective of weather. Most people are ill because they eat only junk food and drive everywhere. They have no resistance to anything. The next best way is to get a flu jab. I've not been off work sick for over 30 years and never have more than one cold a year.
Andrew, Burnley, UK
Andrew in Burnley: what happens if you don't like fruit or veg, or you choke on a pip eating them, or if we are out walking irrespective of weather we get struck by lightening or worse get beaten up! we'd have to take some more time off wouldn't we? I think this is a great idea...I'll go for a stroll tonight.
My husband is cursed with an extremely strong constitution and therefore is never ill and spends most of his days covering for the extremely high number of "sickies" that his hard and badly paid job seems to attract. Yet when it has come to the two occasions in the past three years that he needed an emergency day off to attend to other extremely ill members of the family - he was not given any leniency by the company. Hard work it seems has no reward - I now encourage him to do so at regular intervals.
As so many of us work in air conditioned, poorly ventilated (yes it is possible to be both) offices, those who struggle in when they are unwell are a positive menace. Do yourself a favour and stay home.
Jane, Wales, UK
I don't take sickies but I do work when ill. I work in the health service in a difficult and stressful job which is underpaid. However, my boss treats me like an individual, is flexible (I have a child and sometimes need time off without warning) and I love my job. On top of that I have a strong sense of social responsibility. Maybe it would be different if I worked for a private company where the CEO regularly changes and each time receives a 'bonus' even if he/she has failed to deliver!
Bev, London, UK
Attendance records were used in the calculations for who was laid off here, last year. I'll be driving to work in my sick-bed, if needs be!
Tony H, Bristol, UK
With all the extra hours UK workers put in with no overtime, sickies up to the statutory entitlement is not surprising and is often a necessity if workers are to work effectively.
Personally I've never taken a "sickie". It's not right, simple as that. There are far too many slackers out there who are all too keen to skive off. It doesn't wash saying that companies can afford it, they get enough work out of me, etc, etc. If you don't want to do the job, leave and let someone who does want to work have it. Personally I think it's tempting fate and one day you may never be able to work again.
I suffer from migraines and the medication I take is much too strong to take at work. After having only three separate days off sick from migraines in 15 months, in a former workplace, I was told to think of another reason why I might be ill, as it was starting to look suspicious - but this was the same firm, who happily let a colleague take over a month off sick for various injuries caused down the gym or by cooking his own dinner (food poisoning).
I think the whole system needs review. There's too many slackers getting away with sickies, whilst genuinely ill workers are penalised.
My partner teaches at a school. Staff were told after a period of time that if they were off sick, they wouldn't get paid. Now they come in for an hour or so, say they don't feel well and then go home. 'But I tried to come in' they say and they get away with it and are duly paid. You wouldn't believe how often this happens. Work shy malingerers.
Mick Hunter, Leeds
It makes me sick to see how many people are prepared to fake an illness in order to skip out of work. So sick in fact, that I better call into the office and let them know I won't be coming in!
Chris B, Vancouver Island, Canada
In Italy there are people employed both by the company you work for and the government who carry out home visits spot checking on sick people. This means when off sick you are confined to your house, making "taking a sickie" a lot less attractive. If a company is suspicious of a sick employee they will send round the health visitor to check, and disciplinary action may be taken, sick note or no sick note.
I once took an acting class when I was young and won an award for the best imitation of a cold. I must say that it comes in handy on occasion when I feel the need to go shopping in Paris for the day!
A sick day? What is that? As a stay at home mother, we don't get sick days. I still have to get up and around. No days off here.
Renée, Kansas City, Missouri, USA
It's OK if you are a pampered office worker but for those of us who work on the shop floor, we can lose attendance bonuses worth £100s for just one day off sick and we have to take holidays not to lose money which we can't afford to lose.
Those of us who work on a "paid per hour" basis (similar to self-employed) cannot afford to take time off sick, we do not get paid for it. If more employees only got paid for the hours they worked then "sick" time would be reduced. I do feel however, that genuine illness and injury, backed up by doctors, should not be penalised. In my work, I am subject to regular medicals as reasonable fitness is required. This means that the odd "sick" day cannot be covered up.
Kevin Weston, Warminster
The majority of people are tempted to take sickies and I'm no different. However, when I am actually ill I hate phoning in as bosses always sound cynical about your condition! Best to keep sickies for times when you have interviews for new jobs coming up!
I don't have any choice in the matter. The company I work for operates a three strikes system - any three sickies in a 12 month period means you automatically go on report. Being on report affects your appraisal and so lowers or nullifies your rewards at the year end. I take annual leave if I'm ill so it doesn't get noticed.
Mark, Nottingham, England
I remember working in a hospital admin department and hearing colleagues talking about only having so many weeks to use up their sick day "entitlement".
Arnold Powis, UK
The only sickies I get fed up with are the ones that come into work spreading their germs and flu around the place. I work as a contractor, which means if I don't work, I don't get paid. Only just the week before xmas I lost a whole weeks earnings as I caught the flu from my colleague. To those people who come in and cough and splutter about the place I say this: Look stay at home if you're unwell. You are not doing yourselves any favours and contrary to popular belief it doesn't get noticed by your employer. Your just spreading your germs to the rest of us.
PS, UK, London
Haven't taken sick days off in eight years. Not about to start now.
Rod Aries, Glasgow
It's not just the pressures of work. It's the quality of life in general that the government seems adamant in keeping from us. This country is going backwards in everything while our European counterparts seem to enjoy a better life. Pressures of work are very real but they are only just one spoke in the wheel. Most of us in the UK are committed to our work and do take pride but no matter what we all do, our bosses seem to widen the goal posts, increase targets and decrease wage rises.
There is a fine balance here. Taking days off when not sick is wrong, but so is working when you should be at home in bed. A number of years ago I thought I was indispensable. I worked through a very bad bout of flu, made other people ill, and eventually made myself so bad I needed a month off rather than the few days I should have taken. I've learned my lesson now.
No pay rise in four years, on permanent call out regardless of whether you take paid holiday or not. Of course I take sickies, and a lot of them too. Anyone who doesn't take advantage of their company is really losing out and needs to get a life.
Perhaps all the people taking pretend sickies would like to pay a bit more tax to make up for what they're costing the rest of us. I have no problem with people who are genuinely ill being off sick, but to just take a day off because you feel like it strikes me as though it should be a sacking offence.
Ian, Chesham, UK
My, what a nation of schoolchildren we've become. I don't object to people going sick with colds, as I've seen the havoc which can be caused by one macho worker struggling in with enough germs to show up on Tony Blair's WMD radar. Pulling sickies just because people want a day off work is plain dishonest, though.
David Hazel, Fareham, UK
Strangely, I stopped taking sickies once I had kids....
Tom Melly, London, UK
Give us the same amount of public holidays as the rest of Europe gets then people will be less likely to take sickies. There are 14 weeks between New Years Day and Easter this year without a public holiday and 17 weeks between August Bank Holiday and Christmas. The other 21 weeks of the year have no less than eight public holidays in them. We don't even get a day off for St George's Day!
David Howe, Chelmsford UK
I am a temp worker so if I don't work I don't get paid, sick or not.
Claire Herbert, London
No, I will save my sick days for when I am actually sick. Though recently unfortunately, I only seem to get sick on weekends and during annual holidays.
Paul, Leeds, UK
This is nothing more than theft. What would these people say if their employer were to break their side of the contract and decide to not pay for a day, when they felt like it.
Eliot Burgess, Leicester, UK
Why don't more companies get into the current century and offer staff the ability to work from home every so often if possible. When I start to feel ill I work from home, not only do I get more work but I recover faster and don't spread my germs around to everyone else in the company. If you fancy a day off take it as holiday if your company won't let you, find another job. At the end of the day life's to short to sit and moan.
Jo, Manchester, UK
Any time I take a genuine sick day off my boss sends me a snide email saying it'll count against me in my next review. Because of this I have come into work feeling so bad that, on one occasion, I practically passed out and was driven home by another member of staff. I worry that if I tried to take a sickie I'd end up sacked.
I am very surprised to see days off for colds referred to as 'sickies'. Personally, if I have a cold that makes me feel bad and will impair my work, I take a day off to which I am entitled. That way I get better sooner and I don't pass it round the office. It is also very relevant that this news comes at a time when working hours are going up and the phrase 'cash rich, time poor' is becoming common. There are also many employees who do not take their full complement of holiday. At some point something has to give.
Katherine, London, UK
I have been unfortunate this year to have required days off with various genuine illnesses. An example of which was severe food poisoning. A friend of mine was hospitalised with an infected gall bladder. I was incensed when my company then gave £50 bonuses to those members of staff who were LUCKY enough to have been in good health all year. This implied that the rest of us were scroungers pulling sickies. So all you mangers reading this, just bear in mind that some of us do not choose to be off ill. I would have personally given someone £100 if they could've waved a magic wand and taken my illnesses away.
So what if the people who actually do the work in a company take the odd "sickie". They probably deserve it, and more. Chairman's and CEOs on the other hand don't have to take "sickies" because they are never in the office anyway. They usually just call in from their yachts, gyms or exotic holidays, which they'll get an automatic million pound bonus for at the end of their hard year! Why doesn't someone do a survey on how much work senior managers actually do compared with lower level employees and how much the British "work horse" is open exploitation by greedy fat cats before they contract some terminal disease from overwork?
Anna, Hounslow, UK
Anybody else notice that on the same page as the article about sickie taking, there was another about the long hours people may be forced to work in certain jobs in the UK, contrary to the European working hours directive. If people were given decent working conditions/hours and holidays what say the number of sickies taken would drop?
There's no point, I'm self employed and work on my own. If I don't do it - it doesn't get done. Mind you, I've decided I'm not very nice to work for. Only last week I had to give myself a formal warning!
Paul B, Oxfordshire, UK
I'm sure firms take the likelihood of employees pulling a certain number of sickies into account when deciding on how much annual leave to offer. Every job is different, but there's generally a number of sickies above which fellow employees feel that colleagues are taking liberties, never mind the employer. Up to five a year - unless one is genuinely unwell, in which case as many as necessary -seems fair enough to me.
Adrian A, London, UK
In England we are already overworked and under paid. So why shouldn't we have the odd day off?
Paul Henman, Dunstable, England
I can't afford to take off a sickie. As a temp, I only get paid for the hours I do. I work in the public sector, and it annoys me the amount of time the other workers take off sick (because they can get away with it). If EVERYONE got paid like us temps, no one would be planning to take a sick day this month.
Jan, London, UK
I most certainly will. UK companies treat employees like garbage, give below inflation pay rises whilst the fat cat board members take all the profits.
I have been in full-time employment for 29 years and have never taken a "sickie". Taking something you are not entitled to is theft.
No way! I don't take a sick day unless I'm at deaths door!
Seems the young ones these days are far too soft and can't work even if they have a cold. The work will still be there when they get back the following day.
I don't take 'sickies', and I get annoyed to hear that people do. I have a friend in the civil service who counts his 9 days annual sick leave as part of his holiday entitlement and makes sure he takes all of them, ill or not. However, if you are ill you shouldn't be at work spreading germs, it only causes more problems.
Mike, Tadley, UK
I was off sick just before Christmas but went back too early as I had customers phoning me at home complaining about me being off sick. This resulted in me being off the entire Christmas/New Year period when I should have been in work. Going back to early caused me to spread the flu to everyone else in the office.
On my return yesterday, despite having a sick note from the doctor, I was met with numerous comments from management concerning lack of commitment and being off sick.
If my manager hadn't come in sick in the first place I may not have been off at all.
I used to work in a call centre with about 70 other people doing the same job as me. I used to do sickies all the time. Now I work in a team of 3 people which means my 2 colleagues rely on my heavily. I don't even take sickies when I am genuinely ill anymore. I had one day off last year. It's been a real eye opener, and good discipline!
Malcolm Huey, Bath, UK
No, I am not planning a sickie this month, reason why? I love my career. I suggest to those people who are planning a sickie that they should consider moving to a new career.
Sunjay Bhogal, London
Question to Sunjay: What do you do for a living? It sounds like I should give it a go.
Leon, West London
As it takes 3 days to get an appointment at the doctors, people are often already on the mend, it's the people who insist on coming to work when they are ill that cause the problems, spreading there germs to everyone else. nothing wrong with taking the odd day off, unless you work for the civil service in which case you don't do any work anyway!
Nick, Sheffield UK
I had a bad run a couple of years ago of sickness and got a bad reputation around work for pulling sickies even though I was genuinely ill. I doubt anyone would have worried so much if there weren't so many others faking to get off of work.
Jon Lipscombe, Reading, UK
Sorry, I can't comment today as I've a stinking cold and need to stay in bed.
Jeremy Donald, Scotland
Who are these 60%? In all places I've worked (and in the IT profession in general) it's hard to take even a genuine 'sickie'. I'm currently at work despite having a chest infection. The work needs to be done.
Jonathan, Dalry, Scotland
I have no plans to take a 'sickie' for the foreseeable future. However I wish people who were sick would stay at home. It's disgusting to have to listen to other commuters wheezing and coughing on the way to and from work, and slightly worrying too.
I never take a sick day when I have a cold or hangover - might as well suffer at work. Normally I'll take a sickie when I feel 100% fine but just fancy a day at home! I also try and phone in immediately after waking up so I sound rough.
Thanks to this Government I don't have a job anymore so I won't have the chance to take a sickie.
Pepe, Basingstoke, UK
People should be encouraged to take days off work even when they have the slightest hint of a cold, they should be given full pay too. I work in a large office and as soon as one person comes in ill, everyone catching it, leading to more absences than just the one there should be.
I, on the other hand am not planning on pulling a sickie between now and my holiday booked for February because I'm worried I've already taken too many, hehe!
Since when is coming into work with a cold a good idea? Who wants to spread disease? And I wouldn't call a hangover an "ailment" - it's a mild form of poisoning, though I do have an infallible cure (a five mile run will always, in all circumstances, cure a hangover, though you must be properly hydrated first!)
What a topsy-turvey world we live in. Those who are not sick takes days off and those who are sick come into work and spread their colds and flu around everyone else. Will I be taking a 'sickie'? No, I'll be waiting until the nice weather comes along and I can make the most of one then!
Kiltie, Staffs, UK
I can't see the point. If I take a day off sick, the work is just waiting for me when I get back.
Kathy, Marlborough, UK
People will take sickies if they can get away with it. This is why public sector sickies are rife, with weak management and little bottom-line day-to-day pressure and total job security regardless of if you are any good or not. Since there are now hundreds of thousands of non-jobs, no-one notices if no-one is doing them! Look no further than today's announcement from Scotland of 600 jobs to encourage children to eat healthily - another huge waste of taxpayers money.
Jon Cooper, UK
I think if employment situations were fulfilling or at least rewarding enough, employees wouldn't feel justified in taking sickies. The bigwigs make enough of money off of hard-working people who do difficult, time-consuming and monotonous jobs, and somebody has to do these jobs. It is understandable, in my view, that people feel discouraged and have no compunction about screwing their employer. I wouldn't judge anyone for it, and every so often I do so myself, but it is a slippery slope. I don't think it costs the companies anything, because if someone is that unhappy in their work that they feel justified in breaking the law just to get a day off, then they're not going to be a particularly effective worker anyway on that day.
Anon, Dublin, Ireland
Why do I need to take a sickie? That's what annual leave is for. I am sure some companies bring this kind of thing on themselves by treating their staff like naughty children but when your company shows you the respect you deserve it is disgraceful to take advantage of it.
John B, UK