Scotland had the highest number of employees (38%) ‘pulling a sickie’ in 2017, with the majority doing so to avoid a stressful situation at work

Overall, out of all the employees who pretended to be sick, 18% confessed to being caught by their employer

Collectively, the UK loses an astonishing 38 million days each year to employees feigning sickness – equivalent to the working days needed to build 2 Channel tunnels or 40 hospitals


‘Pulling a sickie’ is familiar territory for employees, but an inconvenience for employers. Whilst many employers may be unsuspecting of a worker’s absence, faking a sickness can negatively impact a business’s performance in several ways. In fact, figures by BreatheHR shows that £357 is the average cost to an employer for each worker who throws a sickie. The same research found they cost the UK an astronomical £900 million a year. Interested in sickness rates, Adzuna surveyed more than 3,500 employees to find out how many had ‘pulled a sickie’ in each UK region in 2017. Adzuna also sought to find out which industries had the most employees skiving off in 2017. The findings revealed that employeesin Scotland were the biggest offenders with 38% shockingly admitting to doing so.

Business services was the industry in which it was most prevalent. Interestingly, the real reason the majority pulled a sickie in Scotland was because they wanted to avoid a stressful situation at work (e.g. meeting, presentation etc). Avoiding a stressful situation at work was also the number one reason amongst  employees in the South West – who had the second highest sickie rate at 36%; with the computer software/hardware industry seeing the highest rates of sickies. On the other end of the scale, the North East was the region which had the lowest number of employees who faked a sickness, with employees in the non-profit industry the most common. Childcare issues were the most citied reason for faking a sick day. Slightly above the North East was Northern Ireland, where 17% of employees faked their illness, with the Retail and wholesale trade most dominant. Surprisingly, the weather was the actual reoccurring motive behind those in Northern Ireland pulling a sickie. Overall, out of all those who admitted to faking being sick, 18% confessed to getting caught by their employer. Out of the 18% who got caught - 36% were given a verbal and/or written warning, 24% an informal ‘telling off’, 22% faced no action and 18% were fired from their job. Moreover, combing the data from the survey and that of The Office of National Statistics (ONS), Adzuna produced an approximate estimate of how many days are lost to fabricated illnesses in each UK region. Collectively, the UK loses an astonishing 38 million days each year because of employees feigning sickness. To put this into context, the man hours lost by sickies in the UK in just one year, equates to the same number of working days to build two Channel tunnels, or 40 hospitals. Doug Monro, Co-Founder of Adzuna commented:

“Employees who ‘bunk off’, should consider the impact their absence could have on time sensitive projects or the subsequent increase in pressure on their colleagues. Those who have genuine reasons to avoid work, whether it’s due to childcare issues, an internal dispute or something more personal, would be better advised to approach their employers to see if a reasonable solution can be agreed to.”