Far out Friday: Older employees four times less likely to fake an illness

by Nicola Middlemiss22 May 2015
A new study is shedding light on the type of employees who are most likely to lie about being sick and – shock – it seems younger workers are the worst offenders.

According to the survey by insurance firm RIAS, workers over the age of 50 are almost four times less likely to lie about being ill than their younger colleagues.

The survey revealed that, over the past five years, 44% of workers aged 20-39 had lied to their boss about being ill to get time off – compared with just 12% of those over 50.

Out of the 2,000 working adults surveyed, nearly a third of under-40s saw sick leave as an ‘additional holiday’ that they deserve – whereas only four% in the older category agreed.

But it’s not just attitudes that are vastly different – it appears over 50s are actually healthier, or at least more reluctant to take time off even under genuine illness.

In the past year, only a quarter of over-50s took days off work due to a genuine illness, compared with almost half of those aged 20-39. Among those who had taken a sick day after falling ill, a third of under-40s said this was due to a common cold, compared with one in ten older workers.

The survey also found that more than half of younger employees who had a sick day admitted taking off more time than necessary but only a tenth of older employees said the same.

RIAS suggested older workers were keen to make the “best impression” and hold on to their jobs as they approached retirement. The firm also said older employees may look after themselves better, resulting in fewer genuine sick days.

“Over-50s workers continue to be a vital part of the workforce and they should be recognised for the contribution they make,” said RIAS’ Peter Corfield. “They bring a wealth of experience, ambition and knowledge that cannot be underestimated,” he continued. “It is key that we understand that workers in their 50s and 60s are not ‘old’, they are hardworking and dedicated, and very much want to work.”


  • by Charlie 22/05/2015 11:32:42 AM

    I agree with the theme of this story. Baby Boomers and Gen X don't have that entitlement mentality that many younger workers have. But the RIAS suggestion that older workers don't chuck sickies as they fear for their jobs, and must be approaching retirement is frustrating. Why is it that, even in the face of our aging society, surveys and reports still talk about "over 50's" with the assumption that that particular demographic (anyone over 50) must be contemplating retirement. Data shows that as a society we are living longer and the government's own policies are forcing workers to remain in the workforce for much longer than ever before. I don't know many 55 year olds these days who are contemplating retirement. They are actually more likely to survive well into their 80's and 90's and are therefore considering that they will need to keep working and contributing to their superannuation for as long as possible in order to sustain a retirement lifestyle that could span 30 years or more. When will these survey results start to categorise demographics into realistic groups. Over 60's might be considering retirement, but I've not spoken to many over 50-60 year olds who feel that retirement is something they can afford. Additionally the assumption that they have to 'make a good impression' in order to keep their jobs is old fashioned nonsense and an insult - based on the thought that as you age you lose capability and become inferior... The government's own plans to force workers to stay in the workforce must be evidence that such an assumption is plainly false. Statements such as the RIAS's in survey results just seem out of touch and reduce the credibility of the report.

  • by Janet 22/05/2015 12:20:10 PM

    Charlie .... I couldn't agree with you more! Great commentary!

  • by Helen 26/05/2015 8:30:58 AM

    Very well said Charlie!!

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