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Vomiting and diarrhoea are the sickie excuses your boss will most likely believe

ABC News logo ABC News 10/11/2015
If your head is in the toilet bowl you are most likely to convince your boss you need the day off. © ABC If your head is in the toilet bowl you are most likely to convince your boss you need the day off.

Bogus stories of throwing up and other toilet horrors are the most likely to convince the boss you need a sickie, with colds and mental health issues the least persuasive, new research shows.

The study from UK healthcare provider Benenden involving 2,500 employers and employees found vomiting was the most acceptable reason to take a day off (73 per cent), closely followed by diarrhoea (71 per cent).

Fewer than two-thirds of people thought the flu was a valid reason, but forget run-of-the-mill sniffles — only about one in 10 bosses would accept a head cold as a good reason to stay away from the office.

A "sick bug" had a 53.2 per cent success rate, while stress was only accepted by 19 per cent.

Only 17 per cent believed mental health issues were a valid reason for sick leave, and a headache scored the lowest.

But even some people (6 per cent) believed feeling "under the weather" was a good enough excuse when suffering no specific symptoms, the researchers said.

The results of the Benenden research also revealed women were more likely than men to call in sick — with 54 per cent of women calling in sick compared to 43 per cent of men.

Absenteeism was also more frequent among younger people (aged 18 to 35).

University of Sydney work and organisational expert Associate Professor Angela Knox said aside from legitimate sick days, Australians often "chucked a sickie" because their work conditions were unsatisfactory.

"When people are unsatisfied at work they can't be bothered going because they know they are going to have a terrible day," she told the ABC.

"Often illegitimate forms of sick leave go hand in hand with workplaces where there is a poor level of organisation, people aren't clear on the kinds of jobs they need to be doing, or they're very stressed.

"There are clear links between how we feel about work and onset of mental and physical illness."

She said Mondays, Fridays and public holidays were peak times employees would go sick.

"Around Melbourne Cup day last week a lot of people suggested they had taken a sick day in order to enjoy the activities."

'Job insecurity' leads to reduction in Australian sickies

The survey showed the average worker now took 8.6 days of sick leave per year, a 7 per cent decrease since the GFC. © ABC The survey showed the average worker now took 8.6 days of sick leave per year, a 7 per cent decrease since the GFC.

Research released last week showed Australians are not chucking as many sickies as they once did.

The survey from absence-management firm Direct Health Solutions of 97 companies covering 220,000 employees found absenteeism had dropped to its lowest level since the global financial crisis (GFC).

It showed the average worker now took 8.6 days of sick leave per year, a 7 per cent decrease since the GFC.

It found absenteeism cost the national economy $32.5 billion per annum in lost wages and productivity.

Associate Professor Knox said some commentary indicated this change could be because the "culture of entitlement" was being eroded, but suggested it was more likely that job insecurity driving the decrease.

"People are less inclined to take a sick day even when they are really sick because they're scared their jobs are at risk," she said.

"The problem with that is they're not as productive when at work because they're sick and not performing how they ought to be.

"They're spreading whatever they have among employees."

A McCrindle survey from 2014 found every work day 300,000 Aussie workers were off sick.

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