Workers over 50 are four times less likely to ‘pull a sickie’ than younger staff, a study shows.
Older employees, dubbed ‘the reliables’, were half as likely to take a genuine sick day – and far less likely to fake an illness, researchers said.
A survey revealed that over the past five years 44 per cent of workers aged 20-39 had lied to their boss about being ill to get time off, compared with just 12 per cent of those over 50.
Nearly a third of under-40s saw sick leave as an ‘additional holiday’ that they deserve. Only 4 per cent in the older category agreed.
More mature workers appear to be healthier than their younger colleagues – or more reluctant to take time off when they are actually poorly.
In the past year, only a quarter of over-50s took days off work due to a genuine illness, compared with almost half of those aged 20-39. Among those who had taken a sick day after falling ill, a third of under-40s said this was due to a common cold, compared with one in ten older workers.
RIAS suggested older workers were keen to make the ‘best impression’ and hold on to their jobs as they approached retirement. It also said older employees may look after themselves better, resulting in fewer genuine sick days.
The firm’s Peter Corfield said: ‘Over-50s workers continue to be a vital part of the British workforce and they should be recognised for the contribution they make.
‘They bring a wealth of experience, ambition and knowledge that cannot be underestimated. It is key that we understand that workers in their 50s and 60s are not “old”, they are hardworking and dedicated, and very much want to work.
‘The added benefit to UK business in employing more mature workers is that if they take less time off sick, businesses will save a small fortune in lost sick days every year.’
Lisa Harris, from over-50s specialist firm Saga, said: ‘This research clearly shows why those employers that discriminate against older workers for fear of them falling ill are blatantly wrong.
‘Not only do older workers have a wealth of experience to offer employers they are often exceptionally reliable.’
She added: ‘With people expected to work well into their late 60s, employers really need to take their blinkers off and do more to help encourage older workers to stay in or return to the workforce.
‘Not only can they share their skills and knowledge, they can also share their work ethic with any younger colleagues who may be tempted to swing the lead.’
Despite a seemingly better work ethic, a recent study showed more than one million over-50s have been forced to stop working as some employers continue to discriminate against older staff
Academics claimed ‘older workers are being failed at every turn’ and find it harder both to ‘keep their jobs and find suitable employment after job loss’.
The report, compiled by the Prince of Wales’s charity Business in the Community, and entitled The Missing Million, claimed ‘over a million older people have been pushed out of the labour market for reasons beyond their control’.
Its authors said there was a misconception that older employees are simply ‘biding their time until retirement’.
They said older people who lose their job ‘are just as likely as other age groups to look for another one’.
RESIDENTS IN TOP SEASIDE RESORTS AND COUNTRY BEAUTY SPOTS TAKE SICKIES MOST OFTEN
A league table of workplace absenteeism suggests a rather suspicious link between the number of days taken off ill and places where there’s a range of temptations on the doorstep.
Employees round Worthing and Shoreham in West Sussex – fringed on one side by miles of south coast beaches and rolling hills on another – are the most likely to come down with something.
They have almost three working weeks off sick each year compared with a national average of around four days. Curiously, the top ten features next to none of the industrial heartlands which traditionally have the worst health records.
Instead, the most ailing staff are from places like the Cotswolds and Allerdale in the heart of the Lake District.
Public Health England’s 2010-2012 figures give a regional breakdown of the proportion of working days lost to sickness absence. The national average was 1.6 per cent, around four days per year per person.
But Adur has the highest rate of all: 5.5 per cent which is approximately 14 days.
The district incorporates the seaside towns of Lancing and Shoreham-by-Sea, which are popular with sunbathers and surfers. Second in the table is Weymouth & Portland in Dorset (4.3 per cent – 11 days), a resort built on miles of sandy beaches.
Also featuring in the top ten with 3.7 per cent (nine days) are Tendring in Essex, which includes the holiday hotspots of Clacton and Frinton-on-Sea; the picturesque rural haven of the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire and Allerdale in Cumbria which boasts Lake District beauty spots such as Keswick and Buttermere.
Among the best rates nationwide were Sedgemoor in Somerset and Wyre in Lancashire – where the typical employee takes next to no time at all off sick
Ken Bishop, a Shoreham-by-Sea councillor, said: ‘Perhaps it is just too tempting round here on a nice day to think “to hell with work”.
‘This is a great place to be. It still has a villagey feel to it and everybody knows everybody else – though that means you’d have to be careful you weren’t spotted on the beach when you were supposed to be in bed ill.’