A new survey from Softworks found that over half the respondents (55%) believe it’s too easy for employees to get a doctor’s sick/fit note and just under three quarters (73%) believe doctors are providing sick/fit notes for longer than necessary.

The survey “Pulling a sickie – have rates and reasons for employee absences changed since the pandemic” was conducted by Softworks in February/March 2023 and completed by 482 professionals in the areas of HR, Finance, IT, Operations, and General Management.

The purpose of the survey was to find out if non-genuine absence rates have increased or decreased since the pandemic, and if more flexible working is having a positive effect on absence rates. The research also looked at the top reasons for absences, if presenteeism is an issue and ways to encourage positive attendance behaviour.

Key findings

• 75% believe non-genuine absences are causing a problem
• 59% believe unscheduled absences have increased
• 34% believe presenteeism has increased
• 92% record employee absences

Commenting, Mairead Walsh, Softworks CMO, said:

We were quite surprised with the response in relation to doctors’ sick notes. This is obviously a challenge for both workplaces and medical practitioners and perhaps there is a need to work more closely together to resolve it.

Businesses may need to focus more on early intervention, well-being programmes, and ongoing two-way communication with employees. In our experience working with clients, early recognition, effective assessment, and rapid intervention is key to managing absences and can prevent them from becoming longer-term and more sustained problems.

Mairead Walsh, Softworks CMO

The full survey findings and analysis paper (pdf) may be downloaded via this link via this link

Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website | + posts

Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.