Survey: Why we don't always call in sick when we should

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 11 Feb 2021, 10:56AM
A new survey has found workers are hesitant to call in sick because of staffing and leave issues. Photo / Getty
A new survey has found workers are hesitant to call in sick because of staffing and leave issues. Photo / Getty

Survey: Why we don't always call in sick when we should

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 11 Feb 2021, 10:56AM

New Zealanders are reluctant to call in sick despite feeling unwell because there was no one to cover them or there was too much work to do, a new survey has found.

The report for recruitment agency Onestaff revealed the top five reasons people were hesitant to take sick leave - with 53 per cent blaming being short-staffed as the number one reason.

The survey of more than 6000 people focused on the trade sector but the findings were typical across industries, said Onestaff CEO Jonathan Ives.

Ives said the results should serve as a reminder to businesses to have a contingency plan in place for staff to take leave - especially with pressures from Covid-19.

"The hesitancy to take sick leave was quite surprising, especially as there's been so much public health messaging around staying home when unwell.

"However, the reasons cited for not taking sick leave were due to staffing shortages and heavy workloads, which shows that Kiwi workers are very dedicated to the success of their workplaces and to their colleagues."

The reasons that people are hesitant to take sick leave included:

53 per cent – There was not enough other staff at work.
49 per cent – There was too much work on to take time off.
34 per cent – They were the only ones with a certain skill in their workplace.
26 per cent – They were running out of paid sick leave.
15 per cent – They were saving sick leave for when kids are sick.

Ives urged businesses to create plans such as buffers between workers or making sure there were temporary options to cover sick staff.

"From a business owner perspective, these results show that it's really important to have some contingency planning in place for staff leave – and to make sure you can provide cover for vital jobs to keep your operations going."

Encouraging staff to take a day or two off when they first fall ill was better for business than them feeling pressured and spreading illness around the workplace, Ives said.

"Staff who are unwell need to feel it is ok to take a day off.

"This is especially true at the moment with the warnings around Covid."

The survey results come as the Government Short-term Absence Payment (STAP) kicks in.

The $350 payment to employers to pay workers who need to self-isolate while awaiting a test but can't work from home started this week.

STAP also supports people who have a dependent who needs to stay home.

Ives said the extra payment to employers would help address the issue for workers who were told to stay home because of Covid-19 contact but who had run out of leave.

Around 26 per cent of those surveyed said they were reluctant to call in sick because they were running out of paid sick leave.

Around 15 per cent were saving sick leave so they could stay home when their children fell ill.

The Government also promised to double sick leave during the election campaign and a Bill is expected to pass in mid-2021.

The survey results were part of the What's my Rate? Industrial and Trades Wage Report 2021.

The report looks at work attitudes, experiences, and pay from workers in the industrial and trades sectors: manufacturing, production and logistics; commercial and hospitality; trades and services; construction and infrastructure; and engineering.

The anonymous responses were collected through an online survey tool between August and December 2020.