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Fewer US Workers Being Fired For Calling In Sick

October 7, 2009

New research released on Tuesday showed the number of employees calling in sick to work with fake excuses is holding steady at one-third among U.S. workers each year but fewer are getting fired for it, Reuters reported.

The survey conducted for CareerBuilder.com, an online jobs site, noted that around 15 percent of employers said they fired an employee for missing work without a legitimate excuse this year.

However, the research showed that 18 percent of employers fired employees that were absent without legitimate excuses last year.

The report said the number of U.S. employers who check up on absent workers declined to 29 percent this year from 31 percent last year and 35 percent the year before.

According to the survey, 28 percent of employers this year said they think more employees are absent with fake excuses due to stress and burnout caused by the recession. Similar questions were not asked in the earlier surveys.

Allison Nawoj, spokeswoman for CareerBuilder.com, said in this economy, employers respect the fact that a lot of employees are burned out and probably more likely to understand their excuses, regardless of what they are.

The survey showed that the number of workers calling in sick when they are not at least once a year has held steady at one-third in 2009, 2008 and 2007.

Meanwhile, the two-thirds of employers who say they let workers use sick days as so-called mental health days also held steady.

A doctor’s note was required for most employers who check on absent employees. Others called the employee at home, had another worker call or drove by the employee’s home, according to the report.

The most frequently cited reasons for falsely calling in sick included not feeling like going to work, followed by doctor’s appointments, a need to relax, catching up on sleep, errands, avoiding a work-related event, housework and spending time with family and friends. The survey did not list childcare as an option.

Harris Interactive conducted the online survey on behalf of CareerBuilder.com. The survey looked at 3,163 U.S. hiring managers and human resource professionals and 4,721 U.S. full-time adult workers between August 20 and September 9.

The survey among workers had a margin of error of plus or minus 1.74 percentage points. The margin of error among the hiring managers and human resource professionals was plus or minus 1.43 percentage points.

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