Most sick days taken in November, not National Sickie Day, Blue Monday – or even in the worst British weather

National Sickie Day and Blue Monday can’t compete with a pre-Christmas Monday for staff calling in sick, according to new research from e-days.

The data, taken from a subset of 500 employers using e-days’ absence management system, shows the day most employees call in sick is the last Monday in November.

Last year, 107 employees took unplanned absence on that day, far higher than the 93 who took days off on Blue Monday (third Monday of January) or the 86 on National Sickie Day (first Monday of February).

The next two highest days for unplanned absence were March 1st (a Thursday) at 103 days – an anomaly as it was when the Beast from the East teamed up with Storm Emma to create weather chaos – and the first Monday of November at 101 days.

In fact, November is the worst month overall for unplanned absence, with an average of 88 days per month taken off unexpectedly (excluding weekends), as opposed to the months of January and February, when 77 days and 76 days were taken respectively, and when Blue Monday and National Sickie Day take place.

The month of May is when employees are least likely to call in sick, with an average of just 51 days taken off (excluding weekends).

Clare Avery, HR Manager at e-days, said:

“Blue Monday and National Sickie Day have become big topics of discussion every year, but in actuality, January and February are not the worst times of year.

“November takes the dubious honour of having the most people call in sick. The average unplanned absence is 87 days a month, excluding weekends, creating enormous challenges – and costs – for employers.

“It’s important for employers to understand their own data, employee demographics and behaviours so that they can take strategic actions to not only support employee wellbeing, but also reduce their absence costs.

“If employers understand the reasons behind absences this can reduce the likelihood of them happening in future. For instance, if November is a more popular time for staff to call in sick, what is happening in the business that might increase absence issues? Is the rush to meet pre-Christmas deadlines causing stress or anxiety? Is there an increase in colds and flu and if so, what steps can organisations take to help ease the problems?” 

Kay Phelps