Sick leave costs UK employers R108 billion


Viking survey reveals how British employees lied about being sick for a combined 51.9 million days in 2019.

Office suppliers Viking recently conducted a survey which found that employees calling in sick when they really weren’t were costing the UK economy £5.6 billion (approximately R108 billion). Of the 2 000 working Brits that were surveyed, more than half admitted to lying to find employees weren’t actually sick for 38 percent of the sick days they took off last year, resulting in 51.9 million fake sick days being taken last year.

According to the study, it is more the younger generations that were prone to taking sick leave undeservedly, with about 71 percent of those aged between 25 and 34 admitting to having lied about being sick, while only about 25 percent of those aged 65 and above ever lying about being sick to take an off day. 

Meanwhile, nearly nine in 10 (86 percent) of 25 to 34-year olds reported feeling under pressure to avoid taking sick days, listing reasons such as stress caused by their workload (33 percent), anxiety about calling in sick (31 percent) and pressure from their manager (24 percent). Meanwhile, less than half (44 percent) of over 65s said they feel pressure to avoid taking time off.  

Younger generations are also much stricter when it comes to what should constitute a day off:

Illness/ Sickness

25-34-year olds

Over 65s




Food poisoning



Needing to go to hospital



Common cold



Poor mental health




Related articles

CEO Avian Bell's top tips for succession planning

Incoming CEO of Quantumed Avian Bell shares how a positive organisational culture, strong skills transfer and a solid succession plan enabled him to rise to the top rung of the corporate ladder.