The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick

Anxiety and depression are among the least likely illnesses to be believed

Hazel Sheffield
Wednesday 02 September 2015 08:35 BST

Don’t expect sympathy from your boss if you get the sniffles this September and decide to stay home from work.

New research shows that employers expect their staff to come to work and suffer through a common cold.

Only 24 per cent of bosses think the common cold is a good enough reason to stay off work, according to a survey by AXA PPP Healthcare, however full-on flu tips the balance, with 41 per cent of bosses saying they’d rather not have the sickly employee in the office.

Employers were particularly unlikely to accept mental heath illnesses such as anxiety and depression as a valid reason to stay at home, suggesting a lack of awareness of such illnesses in the workplace.

Bosses’ unsympathetic attitudes have a knock-on effect on the confidence of their employees. Almost a quarter of the 1000 non-executive employees surveyed said that they would lie to their boss for the reason for their absence.

This number shot up when employees needed to call in sick for mental health reasons. While around three quarters, or 77 per cent, said they would be truthfully about physical sickness or injury, such as back pain, flu or an accidental injury, only two in five, or 39 per cent, would tell the truth if they had to call in sick due to stress, anxiety or depression.

Glen Parkinson, SME Director for AXA PPP healthcare, said that employers need to challenge this blinkered attitude to mental illness.

"In many cases it is more productive for an employee to take a day off to recover from a spell of illness rather than to come into work, with diminished productivity and, for likes of colds and flu, the potential to spread their illness to workmates," Parkinson said.

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