pulling-a-sickie-at-workA record number of office workers will phone in sick on Monday as post-Christmas blues, the flu outbreak and financial worries cause 375,000 to join in “national sickie day”, according to a survey.

The first Monday in February is the day British workers are most likely to ring in sick with wintry weather, credit card bills and a long wait until the next holiday all contributing to the country’s malaise.

This year a combination of the worst spread of flu in a decade and an increasingly lenient attitude taken by managers mean more staff than ever before could “pulling a sickie”.

The cost to the economy in lost work and business opportunities, the cost of salaries and overtime payments, could be more than £32 million, according to business advisers ELAS.

As many as 375,000 workers are expected to take the day off, with half of the country’s bosses admitting they do not always believe those who phone in sick.

Peter Mooney, head of consultancy at ELAS, said: “With morale at rock bottom thanks to nearly three years of working in a stuttering economy, and with the worst flu outbreak in a decade providing a handy alibi, we expect absenteeism to soar this winter.

“Meanwhile, more and more bosses have drifted into accepting text messages and emails as confirmation that staff will not be heading into work – making it much easier for staff to get away with taking a duvet day.”

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