'Skiving' staff take two weeks' extra 'holiday'

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The Independent Online

More than a third of UK employees are wasting so much time at work, they are taking the equivalent of at least an extra 14 days in "unofficial holiday" a year. The employees take their "holiday" by "desk skiving".

More than a third of UK employees are wasting so much time at work, they are taking the equivalent of at least an extra 14 days in "unofficial holiday" a year. The employees take their "holiday" by "desk skiving".

The term means that they use email, the internet and mobile phone texting for personal reasons, during work hours.

Research commissioned by workforce management group Captor shows that nearly 80 per cent of UK employees engage in some "desk skiving". Most say their boss tolerates the practice as long as it is within limits.

Nick Jakowiw, UK general manager of Captor, said that most office-based staff expect some leeway when it comes to doing personal things at work. "Employers are quite relaxed about this or simply don't know about it," he said.

The research turned up some interesting regional differences in how employees waste time, with the most creative "skivers" being in the North-east. They are more likely to spend work hours in internet chat rooms, visiting adult sites, sending personal emails and using instant messaging. They are also most likely to admit that boredom is the reason they do it.

Across the UK, the most popular form of "skiving" involves reading online news or visiting search engines. The survey of 1,500 workers did find some serious abuse, with 8.5 per cent of people spending two hours or more a day "desk skiving". It also reported that nearly a quarter of respondents admitted to online gambling and looking for another job while at work.

"The issue is that 'desk skiving' could be perceived as theft," said Mr Jakowiw. He added that if employees were forced to track their time and attendance, their behaviour changed.

The Captor survey shows that just 15 to 30 minutes a day of "desk skiving" equates to seven to 14 days of unofficial holiday a year.

A CBI spokesman said it was important that companies have a clear policy on personal internet and phone use.

"Desk skiving" has claimed some prominent victims. Mike Soden had to resign as chief executive of the Bank of Ireland last year after visiting an adult website while using a company computer.

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