Thousands of employees pull ‘sickies’ when they are not actually ill. One in five UK workers feigned an illness the last time they took a day off work as sick leave, a survey from Aon consulting has suggested.

800 million sick days are taken across Europe with more than 20% of them being from the UK. Thousands of these workers took “sickies” to look after family and friends others said that more interesting work would prevent them taking days off.

Aon consulting polled 7,500 workers across Europe, including 1,005 in the UK, and found that Danes were the least likely to feign illness to get time off work. Only 4% said they fabricated illnesses for their last day off compared with 21% of those in the UK.

“These are probably conservative figures, considering the number of people who do not admit to faking sickness,” said Peter Abelskamp, of Aon Consulting.”Employers would be well advised to tackle the issues of sickness and workplace absence head-on, as these seriously impact efficiency and hit their balance sheets.”