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Last Updated: Friday, 6 August, 2004, 21:18 GMT 22:18 UK
What would stop you from taking a sickie?
Postman collecting mail from a post box
Postal workers who don't take any sick leave for the next six months will be entered into a prize draw for a new car.

The Royal Mail is giving away 34 Ford Focus cars, 68 holiday vouchers worth £2,000, and 12 weekend breaks.

The company say that 10,000 people are off work at any one time in the organisation, costing hundreds of millions of pounds every year.

The Communication Workers Union says it is not against people being rewarded for their efforts, but objected to what it called "gimmicks".

Should employers offer incentives for turning up to work? If you could win a car would this stop you from taking a sickie? Should your salary alone be motivation enough to go to work? Tell us what you think about sick days?

This debate has been closed. Thank you for your comments.


Your comments:

I recently left the Post Office after working there for 2 years. I did deliveries for most of that time and it was pretty much as I expected it - cold in winter, hot in summer. But I was significantly fitter by the end of it, and the wages weren't really that bad - it's not rocket science after all. There was a lot of politics, but go into any large company and there's politics. Postal workers are being turned into whingeing babies by their union - get rid of the troublemakers and you'll get a much better postal service.
Grace, UK

I used to work for Royal Mail and the way it is run by the management is a joke. Instead of offering costly gimmicks they should improve pay and conditions for their workers and stop the culture of running the company by 'intimidation' of their work force.
Martin, Alva, Scotland

My husband has worked for the Royal Mail for 26 years. In all that time he has never taken even one hour off work sick. He has never taken any time off sick in all those years. His reward?.Nothing - not even a letter of thanks for his loyalty to the company. How do you think he is going to feel if one of his colleagues is rewarded with a new car for working 6 months without sick leave - pretty sick I think.
Susan, Cheshire

Spend the money on equipment for the post workers not gimmicks
Mark Taylor, East Kilbride
I am a postman who works in East Kilbride and have been waiting over 7 months for a "pouch box" (a box that mail is kept so I don't have to carry it round in) something that would make my job easier and take the strain off my back, so spend the money on equipment for the post workers not gimmicks.
Mark Taylor, East Kilbride

Royal Mail in the last productivity deal built in two weeks' sick leave for all employees so they would not have to pay as much out in allowances etc, so it was their own idea from the start for all employees to have two weeks off sick. Now they are moaning because a lot of employees are taking their two weeks. It is the Royal Mail's own fault
Gerry, Liverpool

Oh, I do hate the people who whinge at people for taking sick days. If I am sick, I will not come into work. I've gone home for the afternoon maybe twice in the past year and a half due to sickness and this does not mean that I am any less dedicated than anyone else. If people feel they must force their dedication upon others by appearing to turn up even when at deaths door, then that's not anyone else's problem but yours.
Marlen, London

Everyone criticises Royal Mail when the mail is delivered a little bit late. Now that Royal Mail has come up with an innovative new idea for reducing late deliveries, they are being criticised again. Why won't people give Royal Mail credit where it's due.
Gareth, Stoke, UK

I think the management should be sacked for coming up with an incentive like this. If employees are sick they cannot work and there are many ways of finding out whether they cheated and if so there are remedies. No one should be motivated by incentives to turn up sick to work. Do employees have the opportunity in this new scheme of winning a Rolls Royce if they turn up with a severe heart attack instead of going to an intensive care ward in a hospital?
Raymond Rudaizky, London, U.K.

I thought they did already. The incentive is known as wages.
Stuart Jones, Kendal Cumbria

What would stop me? Pride. I don't take sick time because I love my job and I possess a work ethic.
Michael S. Nowak, Pittsburgh, USA

Stop moaning and get on with it
Paul, Warrington
Most postmen finish 2 hours early every day, have 6 weeks paid holidays plus bank holidays. Stop moaning and get on with it. If you don't like it you know were the door is! The people who do the most crying have worked for Royal Mail for 20 years, if it is so bad why stay so long? I have worked for Royal Mail for over 20 years and the 'lazy culture' is getting worse and is positively encouraged by the CWU.
Paul, Warrington

Perhaps if postal workers were given similar flexible working arrangements as many directors seem to get they might be able to manage without taking sickie's and might even find the time to do a second job elsewhere.
John Ley, High Wycombe, UK

Companies should not pay anyone while off work then there would be no need for this sort of prize nonsense. Other organisations encourage such abuse, as a friend was suggested to take a 'sickie' to go to an appointment. He replied being self employed no one paid him to do nothing! Nor should any company.
James St George, London England

If my employers gave me a house to live in and let me retire by 60 I would never take a day sick in my life!
Jason Archer, Berks

A bit of team work never goes amiss
Sally Roberts, London, UK
What stops me taking a "sickie" is the thought that other people at my office would have to pick up the pieces of my work and it wouldn't be fair!! A bit of team work never goes amiss!!
Sally Roberts, London, UK

As a civil servant, my incentive for turning up to work day in, day out is this - to do the job I'm paid to do, to do it well and to feel I'm making a difference to the people I deal with.
Colin, Knottingley, West Yorkshire, UK

One sided and unfair. If you are genuinely sick then you will feel penalised and victimised.
Carole, UK

My husband is a postman and since going over to single delivery has been treated like a packhorse with longer walks and more postbags. It is impossible to get a day off and there is pressure from managers to start early for no extra pay just so the quotas are met. It's not hard to see why sick leave is rife! And just when do they think an employee could take this weekend break? Ha, ha!!
Anon, Swindon

Our local postmen work their socks off and always look exhausted.
R.C. Robjohn, UK
Stop griping about our postmen. Our local postmen work their socks off and always look exhausted. They all seem to do double shifts for little extra money and their salaries are truly dreadful. I know this, I see them and talk to them every week. I truly feel that the board have lost touch with the workforce. The CWU is not particularly militant and cannot be blamed for its' exhausted members. Most posties will take a very cynical view of this very silly idea thought up by a non-postman.
R.C. Robjohn, UK

When I was a postal worker, 13 years ago, the Union actively encouraged you to take your sick leave.
Mr White, Beaconsfield Bucks

I know someone who works for Royal Mail and understand the problems they are experiencing with respect to sickness. This may not be the best solution but at least they are trying something! Those claiming they should find the root of the problem should look no further than the union, which will defend its members to the end, even at the risk of ruining the company that they work for.
John, Coventry

I find this whole concept outrageous. Before taking on my current job, I was a very well paid contractor who was paid by the hour. If I took time off I didn't get paid. So now I am a permanent employee should I take extra days off because I am entitled to sick pay? Isn't that stealing if I am not sick?
Derek, Bolton

Give employees duvet days. They have 3 days a year where they can say, I don't feel like coming in today. It would be make employees feel valued and cut down 'sickies'.
Stuart, Dundee

Royal Mail are actually encouraging sick leave
Hattie Michie, Winnersh, Berks
It seems that if anything, Royal Mail are actually encouraging rather than discouraging sick leave, since if you're off for even one day, you forfeit your right to the chance of a prize, so you may as well be off for a fortnight as for one day. As for 'being rewarded for their efforts', their wages should be reward enough and effort cannot dictate whether one is likely to be unfortunate enough to fall ill.
Hattie Michie, Winnersh, Berks

I'd rather see a fine for those who turn up sick and make life miserable for the rest of us.
Bryan, Glasgow, UK

I don't take sickies and neither, I hope, do the colleagues I'm responsible for. That's because of good management - reasonable requests for time off are acceded to if at all possible. Organisations where taking sickies is routine should look to their management style and skills. Make people feel as though their jobs are on the line if they need a day off, and they'll skive.
John, London

It's staggering the number of people on this forum who have a bee in their bonnet about sickies. Personally I think they're absolutely required. Without the odd sickie life would be dull and lets face it employers in this country are so tight when it comes to holiday allowance that they are necessary. Ever heard of the expression 'Work to live not live to work'? Well I for one will use up my allocation this year and I'm not about to run myself into the ground to fill someone else's pocket!
Jen, England

The root of all their problems is poor management
Tracey, Bristol, UK
Having used to work for Royal Mail I'm amazed at this scheme. All the employees want to do is to turn up, do their work, and go home. The root of all their problems is poor management. Employees are being made redundant left right and centre to cut costs and then the managers are expected to 'manage' a normal work load with fewer numbers. Inevitably the stressed managers stress and harasses everyone else by trying to cut corners. This isn't the answer and until this issue is resolved those staff who feel intimidated and harassed will keep having 'sickies'.
Tracey, Bristol, UK

I can definitely understand that an employee forced to work extra hours for no pay might throw a sickie, just to keep their sanity in check - and I don't blame them: a working contract works both ways - the company should pay if an employee has to work more than their contracted hours, but of course it rarely happens in the real world and they say that unpaid overtime is all about being 'professional'. No, it's about the company reaping benefits from work without compensating the staff. This in mind, can you blame people from taking time off to avoid getting burnt out? That said, I think the Royal Mail's idea of handing out cars to people who just turn up and do their job is approaching the problem in absolutely the wrong way.
Steve, Bristol, England

Even though it sounds like a bribe, it's actually a good start. The objective of every company with attrition issues should to make the workplace provide more positive motivation to workers (including job satisfaction) and also to get to the root cause of the attrition issue. Employees are looking for more than simple monetary return on hours spent - especially as people are becoming more aware that they are spending the vast majority of their productive lives at the work place. It's a good start - however it does need to be followed through with rigorous analysis of the underlying issues and ways to resolve these issues.
A Jones, London, UK

I must ask my boss if he will introduce a similar scheme
Chris Green, England
Whilst amused at some of the comments here, this proposition is ludicrous in the extreme, indeed the Union's reaction is quite sensible. I must ask my boss if he will introduce a similar scheme but I have a pretty good idea what his response will be!
Chris Green, Hagley, Worcs England

Quite frankly I think this incentive is a joke. Why not update terms and conditions to allow line Managers to not pay sick pay on a case by case basis - its easy to spot the ¿odd day¿ taker from the genuine sick.
Clive, Woking

I know of many companies where it is considered normal that disciplinary action is taken or benefits removed when employees have more than X number of days sickness. A friend of mine who works for a major mobile telecoms firm has recently had privileges revoked and been threatened with dismissal through having too much time off from stress caused by working for the company in the first place. It seems obvious to me that if companies expect their employees to take 'sickies' then they should do something about their work environments to prevent the absence occurring in the first place. By the way, I'm self-employed, so if I throw a sickie, I don't get paid at all, I consider my income to be the incentive to work.
Andy Twiss, Birmingham, UK

In the last 4 years I've taken 2 days sick
Sue, Essex
To John in Edinburgh (below): No, we DON'T all take sickies if we're feeling a bit down! In the last 4 years I've taken 2 days sick, for genuine illness. I resent that I have to take on the extra workload caused by people taking sickies because they can't be bothered to turn up. It lets the team down.
Sue, Essex

I'm a Postie and haven't had a sick day in 4 years. And to all the people who would like a job in Royal mail it's £273 a week, 6 days a week, 3 month contract of employment. 8 staff quit this week alone, have fun!
Andrew, Colchester

So if you have cancer you can't enter the draw, but if you're healthy you can. Nice.
R Coldbreath, London

An attendance bonus used to be paid to staff when I worked at Kodak. It was a couple of percent of the basic pay and appeared to be aimed at discouraging unplanned absences (of any kind). It might have worked, I had one day off in 13 years.
D Kinloch, Scotland

I would like to think they are trying to improve the service they offer
Simon, Leicester
Give the post office some credit. I would like to think they are trying to improve the service they offer and with 10,000 people of at any one time that must become increasingly hard. A few hundred thousand pounds invested in prizes against the potential savings seems worth a try. Lets hope it works and other companies follow suit. After having one sick day in three years a simple thank you from my employer would have been great. At least by introducing such a reward scheme I would have stood a chance of winning something worthwhile for the hard work! The only people who won't like this are those who use their sick days to compliment their holiday allowance.
Simon, Leicester

If 10,000 postal workers are off at any one time surely it is an indication that something is fundamentally wrong with the pay and conditions. The Post Office fat cats should improve pay and conditions for its workforce rather than offering silly incentives.
Alison Townsend, Leicester, England

And we wonder why the Postal service is in such trouble? How about they concentrate on delivering my post on time, rather than sending their staff on holidays!
Gavin Scott, Spalding, Lincs

It is time to stop nannying these people who abuse the system
Jo Pettitt, Harpenden

I work in the building industry and like most of my colleagues have a big incentive to go to work when feeling unwell - we don't get paid if we are off sick! It is time to stop nannying these people who abuse the system. We all work for reason be it monetary or simply that we enjoy our jobs. At the end of the day, if you need an incentive to go to work then you are in the wrong job!
Jo Pettitt, Harpenden

I suppose the price of a stamp will now increase to pay for the post office prizes. Those taking too many sickies should be fired. There are plenty of people to take their places.
Doug, Liverpool

Bring back Thatcher, she would soon put a stop to the weak, wishy-washy nation we are becoming.
Darran Dennison, Ripon, UK

A sensible person might keep a spare light bulb in the cupboard so that if one fails you're not sat there in the dark
Maxine, Cheltenham

This scheme is insane, it penalises people who are genuinely ill, while failing to really address any of the root problems: dishonesty, distrust, a clear lack of communication and friendship between employers and staff, and an inflexibility of the system which means it is easier to pretend to be ill than to arrange taking holiday at short notice. I have worked for some companies who budget so cheaply for staff that if one or two are off sick the whole place falls apart. What is needed is a change in the way large companies see their employees.

A sensible person might keep a spare light bulb in the cupboard so that if one fails you're not sat there in the dark. In the same way, companies should employ enough staff in each section that the place can still run even when a quarter of the staff are off sick, whether genuinely or not. Otherwise when a major bug does hit the office, the whole thing could go down the pan. Having spare employees around might reduce the amount of stress in the workplace as well, since if everyone's in the office at once it means a reduced workload for everyone, and that can only be a good thing.
Maxine, Cheltenham

What would stop me from taking a sickie? Not being sick.
Rob, Leicester, England

How many people posting on here complaining about work shy people posted during their own companies time?
Steve, Cardiff, Wales

Working as a postman can be a draining job. Missing a lot of sleep, doing a physical job and working in bad weather all contribute to the potential for illness. Also the work is largely unskilled and Royal Mail tends to treat its employees as such which encourages poor morale.
Rob, Matlock

My house mate's employer gives an attendance bonus of £10.00 every two weeks if an employee hasn't missed any days due to illness. Much better than a poxy prize draw!
Charlie McCaig, Shrewsbury, UK

They are institutionalised
Greg Heath, Preston

Knowing several employees of the Royal Mail and listening to them talk it is obvious what the problem is; they are institutionalised. Genuine sickness is acceptable but this is nonsense. Any pressure the employer tried to apply to sort it out would be resisted by the unions. No wonder the Mail is in a mess. They should privatise it.
Greg Heath, Preston, Lancashire

Should salary alone be motivation enough to go to work? The newspapers business pages are usually full of a company's board members getting cheap share options, golden handshakes when they sign up, golden parachutes when they mess up. If the people at the top behave this way why expect the people at the bottom to be different?
Ian, England

There's blackbird which comes to my back garden about once every ten minutes every day looking for worms. I imagine if it pulled a sickie it would die.
Richard, UK

The whole issue of sickies works both ways. For example, consider someone who is regularly forced to work late without being paid for it. Over the course of a year they'd have worked a couple of days completely for free, so throwing the occasional sickie would cancel this out. Also, I'd like to see an end to having to justify why you want the days off to your supervisors. In a part time evening job I have, I requested a night off a few months ago to see England play in Manchester. I was told by my supervisor that I could have it as a holiday, but "they didn't normally give days off for football". It's my holiday entitlement, I should be able to use it doing whatever I want!
Anon, Sheffield, UK

Great idea. I hope other companies follow suit.
Niall, London

Bribing people to actually turn up and earn their pay? The world has gone mad
Sarah Bathie, Shepperton

Am I living in some sort of alternate universe? Bribing people to actually turn up and earn their pay? The world has gone mad. If you are genuinely ill, stay at home; don't come in and spread your germs! If not, go in and earn your money. I have never taken a sickie day off when I have not been sick. I would not feel it fair to work colleagues and my conscience would simply not allow it.
Sarah Bathie, Shepperton, Middlesex

I was off sick for 10 days last year when I had an operation. I'd have much preferred not to have needed the operation and to have been at work instead. The Royal Mail should stop assuming that everyone off sick is swinging the lead. Discipline the offending individuals and don't tar genuinely ill people with the same brush.
Anna Hornsey, London, UK

I'm giving up my work as a nurse to become a postie. I can not deliver post, keep it in my house, get sacked but then call on my cronies to strike so I can get re-instated and now a bonus of a new car if I'm not ill, where do I sign up?
Ruth Smith, Cambridge

My husband was threatened with the sack from work, because he had been five minutes late to work on three occasions (due to traffic congestion on the A1). They said that if he was late once more within the next six months, regardless of the reason, he was out. God only knows what they would have done to him if he'd phoned in sick for a whole day - hung, drawn and quartered maybe?! I think I might recommend to my husband that he joins the Post Office!
E, UK

As a postman I would like to say all this talk of sacking Postmen who take sickies is laughable. They can't fill the positions they have at the moment and are losing staff all the time. If any of your correspondents would like to join this cushy number there is more than likely a vacancy in a town near you. Also inflexible holidays signed for 18 months in advance does not help the problem. In emergencies we have to take unpaid leave at best or pay the overtime costs as well.
Brian, London

A message to Brian, London: Post Offices in London are obviously more lenient than ones in Birmingham because I can assure you that after taking some time off with a work related injury, my 60 year old father who had worked for the Royal Mail for 25+ years, was rung at home and told if they didn't see him in the following morning he could collect his P45. I know of other posties up here with similar experiences. What a wonderful, sympathetic employer. It makes no odds to my father if he wins a car anyway, he can't drive!!
Beth, Birmingham

Well, why don't we just enter people into competitions for being born?
Michael Ansley, Normandy

Well, why don't we just enter people into competitions for being born? This is ridiculous. If you're taking sick leave without good reason and cannot be prosecuted, then the relevant labour laws need rewriting. Care needs to be taken not to reduce the rights of employees to sick leave (and related benefits) but when these benefits are abused, honest employees suffer.
Michael Ansley, Normandy, Surrey

I disagree if you are sick then you are sick. If you turn up, you get paid as normal. However if you don't like it then leave and let someone else become employed and do the job that you can't be bothered to. It's that simple a choice!
Richard, Darlington

I know of postmen who were genuinely off work, due to illness, in some cases life threatening, and on resumption of work disciplined (as if they were committing a criminal offence) with the threat of dismissal if they went sick again.
James, Hertfordshire

Being encouraged to turn up for work when you are legitimately ill increases the risk of infection and aggravated or prolonged symptoms that ultimately reduce productivity. This loss of productivity has been measured in studies to be in the order of tens of percent. People are motivated to come to work by a good working environment, challenge and responsibility and supportive management, not by prize draws. The reasons why people feel they want to pull a sickie are as, if not more, important to address than the absenteeism itself.
David Brown, London

I wish companies would make a difference between days when you need to be in bed with paracetamol, and days when you just don't feel like going into the office. Allowing people the odd duvet day for the latter, whilst not penalising the former, would probably clear up the problem.
Sarah, York, UK

I only have sick days after I've been out getting drunk the night before... I like the shorter week it brings and as I don't get paid for sick days anyway. I'm happy for the day off... plus it beats being sick in the toilets at work.
Ed, Cardiff

Is this legal? So if I am a good worker who is genuinely sick, I lose out on this opportunity but if I'm a bogus sickie-taker who holds back a bit, I have a chance. Bizarre logic.
Robert, Bath, UK

Ludicrous. A very public acknowledgement that Royal Mail management is unable to manage. A further symptom of the decline in this organization which leaves it totally unable to compete with alternative channels of communication. Royal Mail is a dying brand.
Martin Walls, Watford, Herts

I think this campaign will show just how many unnecessary sick days are taken. How many people have taken a day off after a heavy night? Or when they've got the sniffles? If incidences of sick leave fall dramatically during this six month period then the company should investigate all sick days taken after that to see which are genuine. People who take random sick days just put pressure on the rest of us and make it harder for those who are actually ill.
Lianne, Manchester, England

I am a contract programmer and get paid for the hours I work. I only take a day off sick when I am too ill to go in. If people had their pay docked when they were off sick without a doctor's note, this absenteeism would cease. But employees are unlikely to stand for that.
Chris K, Islington

So now, when I answer the door to my postman, he's likely to be breathing germs all over me?
Andy Mabbett, Birmingham, UK

The Post Office's scheme will cause similar resentments
Jill Cockerham, Leeds

As a reward for good attendance, the Headteacher at the school I used to work gave all staff who had not had a day off in the last term a bottle of wine at the end of term get-together. I, after five years without one day sick, had to take a day off when my 4-year-old daughter was ill. A friend, after 12 years without a day sick had had to take a day off to take her husband to A&E after he broke two ribs in a fall. We both felt very under-valued as we were not seen by the management as good attendees! The Post Office's scheme will cause similar resentments - if a firm is going to reward attendance, it needs to look at long term patterns, not unreasonable snapshots.
Jill Cockerham, Leeds, UK

I employ approx 25 people; we operate no sick pay except SPP. We pay £125.00 per month attendance bonus, we pay productivity bonus applicable to days worked through the month. We also pay six monthly bonus on profit and still non-attendance at work is a problem, but then again construction/engineering has always had a problem with non-attendance. After 25 years of trying to correct this problem, I've taken the attitude if you don't work you don't get paid after all this applies to myself as well.
Clive Dowe, East Grinstead, West Sussex

All I'd like is to be able to claim every sick day as working from home, just like my manager does who then moans when people are off ill...
Anon, UK

I can see this foundering on the Disability Discrimination Act. Why should people whose disability requires them to take time off work be denied entry to the draw?
Philip Jones, Luton, UK

Well it will end up in a lawsuit. There will be someone who desperately wants to be included in the prize draw, he will fall ill and injure themselves because they are not fit to work or they will be sent home by staff. Both scenarios are potential lawsuits waiting to happen.
AD, Brighton

Soon they will be offered a raffle for delivering the post on time
Andy, Bristol
Where will it stop? Soon they will be offered a raffle for delivering the post on time, politely, without losing half of it 'accidentally'. Don't they get paid to come to work? Or am I simply a mug for doing so - I wish I had a nice union to join that would enshrine my right to not work.
Andy, Bristol

GEC-Marconi used to do it the other way around, they penalised people for being sick. So when pay reviews came up, the number of times you were absent is taken into account. It just meant that more people brought sickness into the office and they passed it round and then got it again a couple of weeks later. Several places I've worked have a limit of the number of paid sick days taken per year and then they stop paying you anything other than Statutory Sick Pay. Sickies are bad, but covering people for genuine sickness is only fair.
Jason, London

Is it just possible that these people are genuinely off sick? It does happen, you know.
Anon

If workers are treated with respect, feel like a valued member of staff, and rewarded accordingly, then this increases loyalty to the company. In turn, turnover and sick rates are low. When employers don't do this, it creates a "they don't care about me - why should I care about them" attitude. Companies should take note - your staff are your most valuable asset - treating them well is the key to your success!!!!
Catherine, Glasgow

People would stop taking sickies if we had 2 days leave a year we could take at the last minute
Jools, UK
People would stop taking sickies if we had, say, 2 days leave a year we could take at the last minute (i.e. - phone up in the morning and have that day off). Quite often people get up in the morning and just do not feel like going into work. We drag ourselves in anyway and spend the day stuck behind a computer not being productive at all. I don't see why this would be so difficult to introduce.
Jools, UK

I've only taken 1 day off in the last 18 months for sickness. Besides my work ethic, I put this down to a great working environment, an understanding management and flexibility surrounding holidays, trips to hospitals and doctors. Provided these are evident in other workplaces I don't see why no sick days should be incentivised.
Dave, Cardiff, UK

I have a great incentive to turn up for work. I am freelance, which means when I work, I get paid, when I don't work, I don't get paid. It's the most honest way to do things and it means I only take a sickie if I really am genuinely ill. One thing that does make me sick, is all the whingers who regard paid sick leave as extra holiday entitlement.
Gareth, UK

At the very least companies should give annual bonuses. I work for an estate agent and the wages are ridiculous for the hours that I work and the effort I put in on a daily basis. The reason people pull sickies is because they are fed up with their job, due to a number of reasons - but usually money. However, I have come to realize that if you want to get back what you put in at work, your best bet is to set up your own business.
Matthew Bailey, Bristol

This is disgusting. They should get to the route cause of the problem
Mark, Northants
This is disgusting. They should get to the route cause of the problem. Not paper over the cracks with these types of incentives. This is not fair to genuinely ill people. They may have made an excellent contribution but had a genuine serious illness and have no reward for that. This incentive is just to make the numbers look good. Not solve the problem
Mark, Northants

I'm fed up of dealing with people who regularly fail to turn up to work. The employee and employer have entered into a contract that says you will be on time and at work at a certain time every day so why is this so hard to meet? The world is increasingly becoming far too "me, me, me" orientated and everyone seems to think that they are owed something or that they are so much better or more important than the next person. Our society is too soft, some tough love is needed. Employees should try a shift down a coalmine before they moan about a nice warm office with a vending machine, free coffee, sick pay and suchlike...
Bob, Brighton, UK

Bob of Brighton - Where are these mines you propose to send folk down? Do we have any left?
Ian, Lancashire

I am a civil servant, and the government is trying it's best to penalise staff who are off sick. I feel discriminated against because I have epilepsy. I'm sure they don't really want me to have a fit at work, but that's the way this kind of tactic seems to me!
Helen, South Norfolk, UK

I know a large company that offers a Christmas bonus to those who have not taken a sick day all year
Chris, West Yorkshire
I know a large company that offers a Christmas bonus to those who have not taken a sick day all year. If you really are poorly then you are given the option of taking the day as paid annual leave when you call the office. This both encourages you not to take casual sickies, and rewards those who have good attendance year in year out. This Royal Mail scheme offers employees only "a chance" at getting a new car - some will feel they probably wouldn't win it anyway, and still stay in bed!
Chris, West Yorkshire

All companies offer an incentive to turn up - they pay you. If caught skiving, people should be sacked. Each case needs to be assessed individually - as labelling all absentees as skivers will reduce morale among the genuine workers. You don't need to give away free cars - those bonuses take around £165,000 from Royal Mails profits.
Phil, Bristol

The Royal Mail has lost the plot! They are encouraging their staff to use and abuse the organisation, and the loser will be the organisation as more and more customers take their business elsewhere. Raise employees' work expectations through job enrichment and personal empowerment, in hand with an attractive performance-related pay system, and the 'throw a sickie' culture of any organisation will diminish.
Caron, Salisbury, UK

I think the problem is that we give insufficient and inflexible holidays. Taking breaks improves performance. Far better if they allowed staff to be honest and just ask for days off!
James Conway, Newcastle

If someone turns up for work ill, then he should be sent home
Will, East Sussex, UK
I think every employee should get say 14 days sick pay a year. The employee should then have a choice of either taking the unused sick days as holiday or be paid the cash value every six months. If someone turns up for work ill, then he should be sent home.
Will, East Sussex, UK

Sorry, but a small chance of winning a car won't persuade me from taking a 'sickie' whenever I feel like it. The problem with this country isn't people taking sick-leave, it's greedy companies trying to maximise profits at the expense of their employees.
, Chesterfield, England

Sickies are a symptom of discontentment with work. As far as the postal workers are concerned long-term assignments of workers to delivery rounds would do more to reduce the sickie rate and improve the service than temporary gimmicks. There will always be problem rounds but at least they would be the only problem rounds rather than all rounds having problems as at present. Postal delivery staff are more likely to enjoy their jobs if they're able to become thoroughly familiar with their areas and the people who live there. The remote chance of a lottery win will never replace satisfaction at work.
John M, Lyne Meads, UK

Perhaps if we worked the same amount of hours as the rest of Europe, people wouldn't feel the need to pull the occasional sickie.
James , London

Of course they should, the incentive should be, 'if you don't turn up for work, you're fired'.
Steven BiIlberry, Hull, UK

This Royal Mail initiative penalises those who genuinely may be ill
Jools, Edinburgh, UK
The only thing that would stop me taking a sickie is feeling well. I'm not being flippant but I only have taken time off sick when I have been incapable of working. Taking a day off sick when you're not is simply theft from your employer. This Royal Mail initiative penalises those who genuinely may be ill. I have a colleague who works extremely hard but also has a recurring medical problem that means he is often for a couple of days every couple of months He should be rewarded for his strong performance at work and not penalised because of misfortune.
Jools, Edinburgh, UK

My wife is just about to leave one of the public services. She has worked for them for 18 years but is suffering mentally after a public tragedy at work. She has been forced to resign, as the organisation she works for has got wise to people being medically retired with "bad backs" etc and no longer considers any injury worthy of medical retirement. This is what occurs with malingering. Everyone suffers.
Anon, Northants, UK

It would pay the Royal Mail to find out why its employees take "sickies". A lot will be genuine but some will be playing the system. The problem then affects morale as the majority of workers begin to wonder why they too shouldn't take a day off. It boils down to poor management. I like other contributors believe that this scheme is a double edged sword which may well lead to higher sickness levels as staff report for work and pass on their infections.
Markham, Huddersfield UK

I'm sure it's a good idea given the amount of malingering that goes on in Public sector. Postal workers, tube drivers - all the same. If they were in the private sector they wouldn't know what's hit them. A car might make them come in. It's better than sacking someone for a perfectly good reason and then having the workers strike.
Richard, London

If I take a sickie, it's because I am really sick, and the incentive of a dozen new cars wouldn't make a scrap of difference. This tactic is disgusting and based on the assumption that all their employees are dishonest. It would be much more useful to tackle the reasons why people are off sick in the first place. I bet a lot of it is stress!
Chrissie Nyssen, Aberdeen, Scotland

Shorter hours and less stress would stop me taking a sickie. Since that isn't happening, I'm moving somewhere else.
Katherine, London, UK

Surely the fact that we all get paid should be incentive enough for turning up for work?! If you need more of an incentive, ask for a pay rise or get a better job. Why don't Royal Mail address why people are taking so many sick days first?
Helen, Leeds

I was shocked to find at my end of year appraisal that I had been off 10 sick days last year - mostly to do with asthma and flu complications. I was set an objective to improve and, touch wood; I have not had a day off sick so far this year. I may not have felt 100% each day but it is about self-discipline. It's also worth noting that many prospective employers ask about sickness records on application forms.
Chris, West Yorkshire, UK

This tactic is disgusting and based on the assumption that all their employees are dishonest
Chrissie Nyssen, Aberdeen

If I take a sickie, it's because I am really sick, and the incentive of a dozen new cars wouldn't make a scrap of difference. This tactic is disgusting and based on the assumption that all their employees are dishonest. It would be much more useful to tackle the reasons why people are off sick in the first place. I bet a lot of it is stress!
Chrissie Nyssen, Aberdeen, Scotland

I think it's a great idea and might at least reduce the number of duvet days if the incentive is there to get you out of bed when you really could be doing with the day off! Staff with colds/flu or anything else contagious though should not be encouraged to come to work. This makes it quite a difficult initiative to implement properly.
Joseph, UK

There is a similar scheme in our office. But If I'm ill I'll stay home, I'm not coming in to win no car, I can't drive!
Paul Watt, Cardiff, Wales

As a civil servant I have suggested that we adopt a bonus scheme to staff who go, say six or 12 months without sick days - but it was seen unfair to those who are off sick! In fact one boss suggested I should skive more! I wonder how many thousands of days are lost per year through staff taking Mondays/Fridays off with "headaches" "stomach bugs" "colds" etc?
PJB, Teddington, UK

My own self respect would stop me taking a sickie. If someone's paying me to come to work and do a job, then that's what I'll do. What right do I have to sit at home and be paid whilst others cover my work, just because I was feeling a bit down?
Joe, Glasgow

The Royal Mail's idea is ludicrous. If say for instance, an employee with a poor attendance record suddenly decides to turn up every day for the next six months and wins what would be the reaction of employees with really good attendance records. I suspect they would be very unhappy and this would lead to more discontent in the workplace. A good strategy would be not to pay the ones that are always sick and it is clear that they are taking the company for a ride.
James D, Birmingham, UK

With job start time of 5:15, the increasing workloads and the bullying from managers, it's a wonder we have postmen at all who do turn in for work!
Paul, Southport

Astounding approach... rewarding people just for turning up to work. If a carrot like this is needed, then Royal Mail needs to ask itself why its working conditions are such that people need an incentive just to turn up.
John, London, UK

How ridiculous that people should be given prizes for attending work! Work is what somebody does to provide money for him/herself and the family. If they can't be bothered to turn up because it's a sunny day, England's playing or they're sleepy, then why should they be rewarded with sick pay? If somebody is genuinely sick that is another matter, of course, and malingering will always be a problem. But there should be no prizes for doing what should be done as a matter of course.
Nick Jordan, Ashford, Kent

I think it is a scandal that post office workers need incentives to not take sickies. It would be better if they were not paid sick pay, discouraging such behaviour or they all take a 5% pay cut and those who do not have sick days get the 5% as a bonus.
Alex, Milton Keynes

In the mid eighties, my wife worked in a private American run school in Kuwait. There, they ran a scheme whereby you were allowed six days a year off with sick pay. If, however, you never took any days off sick you got six days extra pay at Christmas. Absenteeism was unheard of!
Ken Doerr, Chester, UK

No. I don't think there should be incentives not to take sick days. If someone in my office has a cold or the Flu, I wish they would be more considerate and stay at home without giving to everyone else, instead of being selfish and thinking about getting a cash incentive for coming in.
Nathan, Bournemouth, UK

Royal Mail have got this all the wrong way around
Paul, Essex

Royal Mail have got this all the wrong way around. If their workers can't be bothered to come in, they should be sacked and their job be given to someone who does want to work. I can imagine however that this idea would be treated as dangerously capitalistic by the union.
Paul, Essex

What would stop me taking a sickie, would be coming into work happy, my colleagues making me feel part of the team. Also getting a good nights sleep and eating well help. I do pull the odd sickie when I fell a bit down and cannot face another day in the office, we all do.
Paul, Edinburgh

The incentive should be this - If you are caught throwing a sickie then you lose your job, give it to someone who does want to work. The Post Office and Railways are full of workers who throw a sickie at the first sign of good weather. Ever wondered why the trains are cancelled on a sunny Friday - think again. We all think about it from time to time but some of us have respect for other people. We are turning into a nation of malingerers.
Richard King, London, UK

I wonder how many sick people will struggle into work over the next six months and infect the rest of the staff. I am the only person in today out of a department of five (and I'm not feeling all that well) because someone was encouraged to come in whilst sick and infected the rest of us. So we have lost more work hours instead of saving them.
Ian Hearn, Reading, UK

It's a fine line to tread by employers. There will always be those who take a day off to enjoy the sunshine, and there will always be those who come in to work when sick when they would be better off staying at home. From my point of view, I resent someone who comes into work ill and spreads the germs to me, causing me to take time off! Also I live about an hour away from work, so I can't just pop in and see how I feel by lunchtime, like some of my colleagues who live five or 10 minutes away - I wish they could be a bit more understanding about this.
Jess, Cambs, UK

Surely this is discriminatory to those who have time off for completely legitimate reasons whom erstwhile are exceptional workers? If you have a problem with staff taking sickies I would suggest the problem lies in poor recruitment, usually linked to poor pay/working conditions/office culture. Make people feel and see they are genuinely valued and not just a small cog in a machine and you may start dealing with the source of the problem.
Matt, Chelmsford, UK

Try offering them the sack. If people persistently take a sickie then the company should hire people to investigate it and fire the member of staff.
John, Cambride, UK




SEE ALSO:
Tesco stops pay to cut 'sickies'
17 May 04  |  Business
Feeling poorly? Prove it
06 Jul 04  |  Magazine
Workers face nurse sickie tests
25 Jun 04  |  Business


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