January is a common month for sick leaveThe new year may be a time of an absence management headache for many HR professionals – particularly with snow currently covering much of the country – and it has been revealed as the time when workers are most likely to call in sick.

According to the Institute of Payroll Professionals (IPP), in January 2008, 13 of the 20 most popular days of sickness absence occurred during the first month of the year, with six of these taken between the 2nd and 9th of the month.

And almost five per cent of all UK workers were found to have been absent on sick leave on the 3rd and 4th of January.

The group asserts that sick days can cause problems for businesses and particularly employees in the payroll department.

Lindsay Melvin, chief executive of the IPP, said: “By law you are only entitled to statutory sick pay if you’re sick for at least four days in a row – including weekends and bank holidays – and you must earn at least an average of £95 a week.”

Research by Sunshine.co.uk recently revealed 64 per cent of Britons have admitted to planning a holiday inside office hours, although a third justified this by missing their lunch break.