British businesses are losing more than £50m a year because of employees skipping off work on Friday afternoons, a company has claimed.
It is clearly a Friday afternoon
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.
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.
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.
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."
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."