Transport workers pull sickies three times more than the average Brit

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UK transport and logistics workers take nearly three times more sick leave than the average UK worker, according to new research that identifies the countries most and least notorious for pulling a sickie.

Research by Mitrefinch found transport staff took 11.4 days off sick, whereas other workers in the UK took an average of 5.8 days leave for sickness last year, ranking seventh in Europe.

Switzerland and Sweden shared the top spot when it came to high attendance, with their workers taking just 2.4 days sick leave on average over the course of a calendar year. Ukraine (3.7 days) and Malta (4.2 days) made up the rest of the top three.

Recent figures suggest that more than two thirds of UK workers tend to avoid taking sick days and still go into work despite feeling unwell – which is even more concerning given the threat of Covid-19 combined with the nature of work that transport and logistics staff complete.

Bulgarian employees were found most likely to call in sick, taking on average 22 days off per year according to the most recent figures available. Workers in Germany didn’t fare too much better taking 18.3 days, with those in the Czech Republic also taking off the equivalent of more than three working weeks with sickness (16.3 days).

“Workplace absences cost the UK economy £18 billion a year through lost productivity, with this figure expected to creep up to £21 billion in 2022 – causing significant losses for the transport and logistics industry as a whole,” commented Matthew Jenkins, CEO at Mitrefinch.

“In Britain, we still live by outdated legacy attitudes in the workplace,” added Lizzie Benton, Culture Consultant at Liberty Mind. “Fear and control is what many organisations are run by and for employees, asking for a day off sick can feel like admitting failure.

It’s not just the act of taking a day off either, but the repercussions this may have when an employee returns to work. For example, if management treats them coldly, or over-question their day off to imply they were faking it in some way.

“I think managers often behave this way because it is bred in the company culture, especially in industries such as transport and logistics where there is a clear gender-imbalance,” concluded Benton. “Attitudes and behaviours start at the top, and if you have a boss who comes in no matter how they’re feeling, it creates a culture where people feel unable to take a sick day – ultimately, harming both the employee and business in the long run.”

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