Happy & Healthy Employees Don't Take Sick Leave

‘Chucking a sickie’ is an Aussie term that’s turning out to be an unhealthy institution. Australians are now among the worst in the world for taking sick leave (legitimately or otherwise) with public sector workers taking between eight to nine sickies per year.

Not everyone is prone to taking a ‘sickie’ as 52 per cent of workers only take sick leave if they are genuinely ill. But it still means close to half of Aussie workers are taking an extra day off from time to time, with 40 per cent admitting they do it to save annual leave.

How should employers handle the common ‘sickie’? Is it to be expected and should employers be concerned? Yes! Unexpected absences cost our economy a total of 92 million working days and costs businesses an estimated $340 a dayAs research by Medibank Private found, healthy employees are nine times less likely to take sick leave than their colleagues with poorer health. Meaning illegitimate sick days can be caused by something more sinister.

So why are employees chucking sickies and how can you reduce absences? Here are our thoughts:

Stress: A recent absence management survey revealed that 39 per cent of absence is stress-related with a significant portion related to work pressure or work stress. Some businesses are adopting mindfulness training as a way to reduce stress. This proved highly useful for Transport for London who saw absences drop by half following mindfulness training.

Check out the Mindset section on our WellHub for great tips and advice on keeping a mentally healthy workplace.

Health: There’s a wealth of evidence that proves unhealthy workers are less productive and take more days off work. A sedentary lifestyle, obesity, poor diet and chronic illness all impact on employee health. Workplace wellbeing programs can help to educate and support employee wellbeing. In fact, effective programs can decrease sick leave absenteeism by more than 25 per cent and provide a return of more than $5 for every dollar you invest in health and wellbeing.

Entitlement: Many workers just feel they deserve a fair go and take a day off. A survey found 66 per cent thought it was unfair they miss out on a day off because they’re healthy and 32 per cent believe they’ve worked hard enough and deserved the fake-sick leave.

Implementing flexible hours policy for hard workers is one way to combat this sickie culture and reduce unplanned absences.


"Effective workplace wellbeing programs can decrease sick leave absenteeism by more than 25 per cent"


Ultimately, close monitoring of unplanned absences will reduce lost time and money associated with sick leave and help establish a culture of health. 

However, many businesses are unable to track and analyse how the wellness of their employees impacts on business performance.

WorkScore is an innovative tool for gathering real-time feedback on wellbeing. It lets you measure the link between wellness and engagement which ultimately leads to improved productivity.

Want to know your WorkScore? Find out now.