We're feeling a bit sorry for ourselves here at the Weekly Boffin. Tragedy has struck and we're nursing a terrible illness (a mild cold). We're not particularly dramatic but let's just say we're getting our affairs in order and saying goodbye to our nearest and dearest.
Luckily I work from home so a) I'm able to conduct all business from under a duvet on the sofa and b) I'm unlikely to pass this on to any co-workers. However, had I been due in an office this morning I'd have thought twice about going in.
In 2016 over 137 million working days were lost in the UK to illness or injury. That equates to around 4 days per person which might seem a lot but is actually the lowest record since 1997. Back then people were taking on average just over 7 days off a year.
To combat this many companies now offer "duvet days". These are a pre-agreed number of days a worker can take off per year with no advance warning. In an age where people are working longer hours than ever before it can be a help for staff to know that if the stress of work is too much there's the equivalent of a hassle-free release valve.
We've all worked in places where you are made to feel guilty for being ill but also there are few things worse than sitting in a office with someone coughing and sneezing all over everything for 8 hours. There is also the argument that productivity drops during illness and that "toughing it out" is not actually that helpful.
With any work absence the key issue is whether or not the job gets done in spite of it. If you are generally a conscientious worker then chances are that one day off won't dramatically affect things. It can be harder if a team suffers due to your illness. However, a study in the US showed that people turning up for work ill resulted in a nationwide deficit of over $160 billion dollars a year, far more than losses created by absenteeism.
It seems that the occasional sick day isn't the end of the world and can actually increase productivity in the long term. So on that note can you pass the custard creams and Lemsip, this episode of Jeremy Kyle won't watch itself.
Job Of The Week
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On This Day
On this day in 1956 Elvis Presley had his first appearance in the UK charts with Heartbreak Hotel. "The King" only reached number 2 with this single but went on to have 21 subsequent number 1s in Britain.
On Sunday May 14th visit the Streatham Common Kite Day. Displays, stalls and food & drink. Find out more here.
Fact Of The Week
The world record for the gap between twins being born is 87 days. Amy was born 4 months early while Katie was born 3 months later. Both girls are now doing well and are referred to as the "miracle twins" by their parents.