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Transport workers call in sick 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 British worker, according to new research that identifies the countries most and least notorious for pulling a sickie. 

Research by time and workforce management solutions provider Mitrefinch - an Advanced owned company - found that 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.

While the stats for Swiss workers are impressive, it’s important to note that companies in the country are known for being generous when it comes to annual leave entitlement - the average worker took over five weeks holiday according to recent statistics - perhaps making the sick leave by UK transport workers more understandable. 

However, 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).

The full results can be found below:

Country

Average days sick leave per year

Switzerland

2.4

Sweden

2.4

Ukraine

3.7

Malta

4.2

Greece

4.8

Russia

5.7

United Kingdom

5.8

Romania

8.0

France

8.0

San Marino

8.6

Hungary

8.8

Estonia

9.0

Denmark

9.0

Ireland

9.2

Finland

9.9

Netherlands

10.0

Belarus

10.2

Croatia

10.3

Lithuania

10.9

Luxembourg

11.8

Spain

12.3

Belgium

12.6

Austria

13.1

Slovenia

13.5

Slovakia

14.1

Poland

14.3

Norway

16.0

Czech Republic (Czechia)

16.3

Germany

18.3

Bulgaria

22.0

Commenting on the figures, Mark Dewell, Managing Director at Mitrefinch, said:

“Workplace absences cost the UK economy a whopping £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. On top of the dip in productivity, employees who are renowned for calling in sick can put extra strain on other staff members who have to pick up their workload as a result.

“But, that’s not to say that taking a sick day should be viewed as a weakness or a lack of commitment - especially during a global pandemic - and it’s clear that this mentality is unhelpful for the wellbeing of its workers. The fact that more than two thirds of UK workers admit going to work despite feeling sick is a serious cause for concern. Taking the time out of work to recover from injury or illness (be that physical or mental) is vital for productivity and growth.”

Lizzie Benton, culture consultant at Liberty Mind, adds:

"In Britain we still live by outdated legacy attitudes in the workplace. 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 that 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. 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.”

For the full results of this research, visit

https://www.mitrefinch.co.uk/blog/time-and-attendance/sick-leave-uk-vs-europe/ 

Tips for HR on increasing transport and logistics attendance

  1. Keep track of your employees sick days

Transport and logistics workers are often employed in vast numbers, meaning their absences can go unnoticed. Monitoring the sick leave that employees take is the first step, allowing any patterns of illness to be logged or flagged. 

  1. Identify the issue or reason for sick leave

High rates of absenteeism from employees can be down to getting the flu, a cold, having an unhealthy lifestyle or a negative working environment. Transport and logistics workers may also be facing injuries from unsafe working environments or equipment, possibilities which must be investigated properly by employers.

  1. Treat the cause not the symptoms

Offering rewards to transport and logistics workers for zero absenteeism can improve attendance at work, but this should be combined with methods to try and address the underlying causes for missing employees. Reducing the physical stress that construction workers experience through repetitive movements and identifying the root of any mental stress, depression or anxiety, is necessary to see any long term improvements.

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