China, India workers most likely to call in “sick” – survey

Friday, 2 September 2011 02:27 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

(Reuters) - Chinese and Indian workers are more likely to skip off work under the false pretence of illness than their French and Mexican counterparts, a new study showed.

The Kronos Global Absence survey conducted online in July and released this week found that respondents from countries where there is more paid leave for employees were much less likely to cry off work with an invented illness than those from countries with fewer holiday allowances.

The Harris Interactive poll commissioned by The Workforce Institute asked some 9,500 respondents, about two-thirds of whom were currently employed either full- or part-time, whether they had ever called in sick when they were not actually sick.

Nearly three-quarters, or 71 percent, of respondents in China said they had, followed by India with 62 percent.

But only 16 percent of workers in France said they had done so. In Mexico, 38 percent had.

In between were workers in the United States and Canada, where just over half had. Australia was higher at 58 percent, and Britain lower with 43 percent.

Joyce Maroney, the director of the Workforce Institute, a think tank established by the workforce management solution company Kronos Inc., called the results fascinating.

Maroney noted that France has been among the world’s leading countries in state-mandated annual leave, with annual holiday allowance minimums coming in at 30 days per year.

“Contrast this with India and China, two of the three countries with the lowest holiday allowance minimums, with India only requiring their employees to take 12 days of annual holiday allowance, and China requiring 10,” Maroney said.

“One could surmise that in those countries where more paid time off is given, people are less compelled to call in sick when they are not actually sick.”

Far more consistent were the reasons given for staging a personal sick day, with feeling stressed and needing a day off the top response by an overwhelming margin. Sick children and insufficient sick leave were also cited by many.

And just what do workers do with this coveted time off? In most of the eight regions surveyed, the top responses were staying home and watching television, and staying in bed.

In India and Mexico, however, folks seemingly prefer socializing to sleep. While watching the tube was a top choice, meeting up with friends or relatives trumped more time in bed.

Workers were also asked what employers could do to cut down on such absenteeism, and unfailingly suggested flexible hours as the solution.

Perhaps not surprisingly, nearly half of respondents in China also said more paid time off would help.

French respondents preferred summer Fridays off and were willing to make up the time during the week.