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Last Updated: Friday, 3 August 2007, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
Friday feeling costs firms 50m
Empty office
It is clearly a Friday afternoon
British businesses are losing more than 50m a year because of employees skipping off work on Friday afternoons, a company has claimed.

Top excuses for starting the weekend early are a long lunch, doctor's appointment or an out-of-office meeting near to home, Employersafe says.

The software firm used Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) figures to calculate the cost.

But the TUC said workers' unpaid overtime gave employers 23.4bn a year.

'Billions lost'

According to the CIPD, the average level of employee absence in the UK has increased for the first time in two years.

Its 2007 research shows 3.7% of working time is being lost compared with 3.5% in 2006.

The CIPD says this costs businesses 659 per employee each year.

Our evidence suggests that more and more workers are seeing Friday afternoon as an unofficial holiday
Pam Rogerson
Employersafe

The Confederation of British Industry estimates overall workplace absence, including genuine illness, cost the British economy about 13.4bn in 2006.

The organisation's research in April also found 70% of 400 employers surveyed felt staff were inclined to create unauthorised long weekends by taking Mondays or Fridays off sick.

Using CIPD figures, Employersafe has now calculated that absenteeism on Fridays costs British business 50m a year.

And it used its database of more than 600 customers to find the top three excuses for taking time off.

Overtime

Pam Rogerson, head of personnel at the company, said: "Our evidence suggests that more and more workers are seeing Friday afternoon as an unofficial holiday.

"We have estimated that this is costing British business just over 50m a year, which all goes to form part of the overall 13bn cost of workplace absenteeism."

Millions of people putting in extra hours of unpaid overtime every week, giving their employers 23.4bn of free extra work each year
Brendan Barber
TUC general secretary

The company has developed a software system that detects patterns of absence and recommends appropriate disciplinary action.

But TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said the amount of revenue the company claims is lost through the "Friday feeling" was small in comparison to what businesses gain from workers' unpaid overtime.

"Obviously staff shouldn't be slacking off during work time, but amounts lost in revenue are relatively small," she said.

"This is especially when you compare this to evidence from official statistics that shows millions of people putting in extra hours of unpaid overtime every week, giving their employers 23.4bn of free extra work each year."




SEE ALSO
Sickies 'make up 12% of absences'
10 Apr 07 |  Business
Council sick leave costing 14m
30 Mar 07 |  Northern Ireland
Workers suffering 'winter blues'
05 Feb 07 |  Business
Sickness leave levels 'dropping'
15 May 06 |  Business
Workers' problems cost firms dear
16 Mar 05 |  Business

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