First half absence rates show Blue Monday and National Sickie Day are no more

New statistics released by the ELAS Group show the absentee rates for the first half of 2017 – and it seems that patterns of absence are changing.

9,300 employees from 75 companies across the UK were surveyed.

Whether it’s due to increased publicity or growth in the number of employers using intelligent software to monitor absences, the figures from the first half of the year show that National Sickie Day and Blue Monday are no more. Monday 6th February (Nat’l Sickie Day) had only the sixth highest absence rate while Monday 16th January (Blue Monday) came in eighth with the lowest absence rate out of all the Mondays in January.

However, it’s not all good news.

While Blue Monday as a day no longer appears to exist, statistics show that Mondays remain consistently blue across the first half of the year with the absentee rate again almost DOUBLE that of Fridays (2054 / 22% compared to 1169 / 12.5%). With the exception of Tues 3rd Jan (the day with the highest absence rate in the first six months), all other days in the top ten fall on a Monday. May has two bank holidays which explains why it is the only month where Tuesdays have the highest absence rate.

Absence management software expert Adrian Lewis from Activ Absence explains:

“We see a similar pattern, sick days are always higher on a Monday and Friday, but definitely more so on Mondays.  Software does help in this regard, at least in identifying the issue.


“However, our biggest concern at the moment is a trend where employers are trying to crack down on absence without looking at each case individually and without even having the tools to monitor absence accurately.  ‘Being tough’ on staff who are off sick (which we’ve seen in some public sector examples) without data to understand why will only switch absenteeism for presenteeism.  Either way, you have a productivity problem.  Absence management software and sensible absence management policies are best way to effectively reduce absence – and in our experience, software saves more money than it costs.”

Of course, not everyone works Monday to Friday.

When it comes to weekend workers, the ELAS research finds that employees are more likely to call in sick on a Sunday (6.5% compared to 5% on a Saturday).

Employees are most likely to call in sick between 6-7am with 7am on Monday 6th Feb (Nat’l Sickie Day) coming in as the hour with the highest number of sick calls.

In 2016 February topped the list as the month with the highest absentee rate however in 2017, March comes in with the highest rate of total absence with January taking the crown for average absence rate.

Once again, April is the healthiest month with the lowest number of absences recorded across the board.

Top 10 highest absences:
1. Tues 3rd Jan
2. Mon 9th Jan
=2. Mon 23rd Jan
4. Mon 27th March *Clock change
5. Mon 30th Jan
6. Mon 6th Feb *Nat’l Sickie Day
=6. Mon 20th March
8. Mon 16th Jan *Blue Monday
9. Mon 19th June
10. Mon 27th Feb

Top 10 times to call in:

1. 7am – Mon 6th Feb *Nat’l Sickie Day
2. 7am – Mon 20th March
3. 7am – Monday 9th Jan
4. 6am – Tues 3rd Jan
5. 7am – Mon 3rd April
6. 7am – Mon 23rd Jan
=6. 7am – Mon 30th Jan
8. 7am – Tues 3rd Jan
=8. 6am – Mon 9th Jan
10. 6am – Mon 16th Jan *Blue Monday
=10. 7am Mon 31st Jan
=10. 7am Mon 13th March

Enrique Garcia is a consultant at ELAS specialising in employment law. He says:

“These statistics bring good news for employers in that National Sickie Day appears to no longer exist. Of course genuine absences cannot be helped but frequent absenteeism, or sickies, is a problem that needs to be tackled. It’s impossible to tell whether or not it’s purely coincidental that the absence rate on Mondays is so high or if people are taking advantage and wanting to extend the weekend but this is the second year in a row that the statistics have shown there is a pattern, which is something employers should be aware of.


“Systems such as the Bradford Factor are particularly useful when it comes to tackling absenteeism as they heavily weight against frequency of absence. This means that they don’t punish genuine sickness absences but rather short, frequent absenteeism. It also helps identify any patterns of absence e.g. calling in sick regularly on a Monday or after pay day. 


“Employers can handle absenteeism with their disciplinary policy. Long term absences are not a disciplinary matter so having a robust system in place will help to reduce fake absences as most employees will not want a disciplinary.”


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