'Sick' days in summer resented

Seasonal absence syndrome has negative impact on others

More than one-third (39 per cent) of employees working full-time have called in sick to work to enjoy a day off during the summer vacation season.

In a survey conducted on behalf of Kronos in Chelmsford, Mass., which specializes in workforce and employee management, the survey finds most people decide to take a day off because: they need a mental health day; the weather is great and they want to enjoy the day; or their workload is so heavy they spontaneously take time off when they can.

But the online survey in April of 2,021 Americans also shows seasonal absence syndrome can have a negative impact on other employees, both in lowering productivity because there are fewer people to get the work done and in setting a precedent.

To curb the issue, Kronos found full-time employees are keen on “summer Fridays,” meaning employees take a half-day or full day off on Fridays during the summer. Other suggestions are more flexibility at work, such as telecommuting, compressed work weeks and flex time, along with paid time-off programs.

Another survey sponsored by Kronos, Sick at Work, found 98 per cent of employees working full-time have gone to work when they are sick. This suggests employees “are forcing the evolution of sick-time use in the workplace,” says Kronos, and the recent abuse of sick time may compel organizations to consider it an “archaic” employee benefit.

“Organizations must implement programs and strategies to support this change. The dramatic shift in how sick time is being used by employees is just one example,” said Jim Kizielewicz, vice-president of corporate strategy at Kronos. “With five different generations in the workforce, organizations can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to benefits.”

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