UK is "sickie" capital of Europe

09 October, 2018

LONDON, UK – 9 October 2018 - Over a quarter (27%) of UK employees feel like its ok to “pull a sickie” at work, significantly more than the European average of 21%. The study People Unboxed by ADP (Automatic Data Processing) which surveyed over 2,000 workers across France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and the UK, found that of those UK workers who believe calling in sick is acceptable overall, 85% think it’s reasonable to do so two or more times a year.

Over three quarters (80%) of UK employees have not wanted to go into work at least once over the last 12 months, again significantly higher than the European average of 74%. Almost one fifth consider quitting at least once a week (18%). This is unsurprising when you consider 40% of UK respondents said they don’t look forward to going to work at their current job.

When compared with our European counterparts the UK is significantly more dissatisfied with their jobs, with 28% of respondents not wanting to go into work several times a month or more, compared with just 15% in the Netherlands and 20% in Italy.

Businesses don’t just run the risk of losing employees to false sick days though, as the research indicates that employees across Europe are also frequently considering leaving their jobs. Over a quarter (28%) of European employees feel like quitting at least every few months and over one in ten (13%) consider it on a weekly basis or more.

Attitudes towards “pulling a sickie” do vary across Europe and countries with workers more likely to feel like quitting also tend to have a more relaxed attitude towards calling in sick. UK workers are the most likely to feel like quitting, with 19% feeling this way every week or more – almost double that of workers in the Netherlands (9%) – followed by Italy (13%) and France (12%). In similar pattern the UK (27%) France (23%) and Italy (20%) are the most likely to feel that calling in sick is acceptable.

Jeff Phipps, Managing Director at ADP UK, commented on the findings: “We all know that employee absence costs businesses and so sick days without sickness are something to be prevented. All too often this trend is linked to unhappy workers and employers have a vital role to play in reversing this worrying attitude. In such a period of political, economic and technological flux, businesses need to have a stable, consistent and engaged workforce.”

Phipps continues: “Business leaders should work to build a genuine relationship with their workforce, using transparency to build trust, and providing development and support to build a committed workforce. It’s important to drive quality management practices that prevent absenteeism while also supporting employees in genuine cases of sickness. Finally, leaders should work to provide quality jobs that stimulate people and give them meaning, so they feel more invested in their roles. This will not only shift attitudes towards sick days, but also improve overall employee retention.”

About the Research

ADP and Circle Research conducted an online quantitative survey in April 2018 of 2518 employees across 5 different countries (France, UK, Germany, Netherlands and Italy). The sample was a representative mix of employees by age, gender, full-time / part-time workers, salary brackets and seniority.

Circle Research are the B2B research experts. With offices in London and New York, we are dedicated to helping our B2B clients understand how business decision-makers behave and think. Visit


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Media Contact:

Laura Brooks, Flagship Consulting
Sarah Callaghan, Flagship Consulting
Tom Jenkin, Flagship Consulting
Claire Nelson, Flagship Consulting
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