'Tis the Season to Call in 'Sick'?

According to a recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive and sponsored by Chelmsford, Mass.-based workforce management firm Kronos Inc., 39 percent of employees have called in sick to work during the summer months merely to enjoy the day off. No surprise here, but the survey also revealed that the most popular days for the hooky playing are Mondays and Fridays. The most cited excuse among the 1,077 U.S. employed adults? "I needed a mental health day."

The study calls the trend Seasonal Absence Syndrome and notes that its repercussions can have a negative impact on the workplace by impacting productivity and setting a bad precedent that encourages other employees to call in "sick" as well.

On the other hand, another recent Kronos-sponsored study found that 98 percent of full-time employees have continued going to work when they were actually sick. Kronos concludes that this information, coupled with the summer absenteeism survey results, "illustrates the growing trend that employees are forcing the evolution of sick time use in the workplace. In fact, the recent abuse of sick time may compel organizations to consider this an archaic employee benefit."

When asked for potential "cures" for the summer malady, the surveyed workers suggested establishing "summer Fridays" or enabling employees to take a half or full day off on Fridays during the summer season. Other popular responses included providing more flexibility at work such as telecommuting and compressed work weeks.

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