Over 3.6 million may call in sick on National Sickie Day - Business Leader News

Over 3.6 million may call in sick on National Sickie Day

According to a new study, more than half of UK adults (56%) have “pulled a sickie” in the past year at least once to enjoy a day off work. The first Monday of February sees the highest number of workers call in sick, giving it the title National Sickie Day, but how many of us have been feigning illness to get the day off?

Ahead of National Sickie Day, a study from online printing specialists instantprint which includes data from 2020 and 2021 highlighted that one in ten Brits (9%) admit that they call in sick on a regular basis, despite not being unwell. If those workers alone decided to take National Sickie Day off, over 3.6 million workers could be off sick on the 7th of February.

The survey also found that the average number of sick days taken by UK employees was 4 out of 256 possible working days. This figure had changed dramatically since the previous survey, which highlighted that UK employees called in sick an average of 2.6 days each in 2019.

Although some of us are bunking off work regularly, others are not as willing to call in sick, even if they are under the weather.

When quizzed on how their attitude towards calling in sick has changed since prior to the pandemic, more than a fifth (22%) of those surveyed stated that it would “take a lot” for them to do so, even in the wake of the pandemic.

A fifth (21%) shared they’re likely to call in sick less, only doing so for a serious illness such as Covid. Only a third (30%) of employees said they don’t feel any pressure around heading in to work when sick since the Covid pandemic hit.

Positively, this number has doubled since the 2019 study on the same topic was conducted, when just 15% of UK workers said they never feel pressure from bosses when calling in sick.

A third (32%) of UK workers admitted “they would be angry with any colleagues who came to work whilst under the weather”. Just 5% said that they didn’t feel that this behaviour would bother them.

Fifteen percent of UK adults still believe there is more pressure on them to go into work, even when unwell following the pandemic, with a further 17% stating that they believe that unless they’re suffering from Covid or equally as serious illnesses, then there is likely to be pressure for them to not take a time off to get better.

When do feeling comfortable taking a sick day, it’s not Covid-19 we’re citing as our reason. Instead, the flu (22%), the sniffles (18%) and headaches and migraines (12%) were the most common causes behind sick days taken by UK employees.

Top 10 ailments UK employees have cited for calling in sick over the past 12 months %
Flu 22%
Cold / Cough / Sniffles 18%
Headache/Migraine 12%
Mental Health Related (Anxiety/Depression) 11%
Sickness/Nausea 11%
Feeling ‘under the weather’ 11%
Physical Injury 8%
Death of a family member 8%
Sickness of a family member 7%
Stomach problems 7%


Perhaps even more surprising is that “the virus” was not voted as the number one reason UK employees believed to be a valid reason for calling in sick, which was reserved for having the flu (64%).  Both the death of a family member and Covid-19 and illnesses related to it, did claim joint second place on the list (53%).

Top 10 reasons UK employees believe to be a valid sick day excuses following the pandemic %
Flu 64%
Death of a family member 53%
Covid-19 (and related illnesses) 53%
Physical Injury 52%
Hospitalisation/visit to A&E 52%
Sickness/Nausea 45%
Mental Health Related (Anxiety/Depression) 43%
Headache/Migraine 36%
Stomach problems 33%
Toothache/Dental issues 32%


Shockingly, just half of those surveyed felt as though a trip to A&E or being hospitalised (52%) was an acceptable excuse when calling in sick.

When looking more closely at the demographic data, the survey showed that a third (33%) of Belfast residents admit that they regularly “pull a sickie” to bag an extra day off work.

Both Southampton (19%) and London (14%) joining them as the UK cities most likely to pull a sickie regularly.

Workers from Norwich (50%), Sheffield (50%) and Edinburgh (50%) were the UK cities found least likely to fake an illness for a day off, with half of those surveyed within each city stating that they “would never do so”.