Taking a sickie is popular with Australians.
Taking a sickie is popular with Australians.

How Australia chucks a sickie

ALMOST half of Australians taking sick leave are actually chucking a sickie, according to new research.

Seeing family, taking a long weekend, visiting friends and recovering from a hangover were among the top reasons given in a survey of 500 workers by software company TSheets.

It found that only 52 per cent of workers taking sick leave were genuinely ill, and that 40 per cent have chucked a sickie.

Other reasons for taking a sickie included to save up annual leave, to go for a job interview, to enjoy the nice weather or a day at the beach, to attend a sporting event and to work for someone else.

It also found that two thirds of workers were forced by their employers to take at least one or more days off, and that half the respondents received at least 16 days of annual leave but more than 30 per cent received much less than the required minimum of four weeks.

Concerns have also been raised about the huge number of workers not using their annual leave entitlements, with an estimated 110 million days a year in unused leave.

Many people say they chuck a sickie for small getaways so they don’t ‘waste’ their annual leave. Picture: Adam Head
Many people say they chuck a sickie for small getaways so they don’t ‘waste’ their annual leave. Picture: Adam Head

It comes as unions have ramped up their campaign against rising casual employment, calling for casual workers to be able to switch to permanent positions after six months of work with one employer.

TSheets analyst Sandy Vo said the survey showed that Australians didn't like wasting their annual leave for a "stay-cation" with family and friends, and would prefer to use it on holidays.

"Another interesting item to note is that 30 per cent of Aussies chose not to use all their annual leave in 2016 so they could save it for 2017," she said.

"Culturally, it seems so much more acceptable in Australia for employees to take long holidays off, whereas it's a little more frowned upon in the US."

ACTU president Ged Kearney said it was up to employers to manage their workers' leave

Ms Kearney said the casualisation of the workforce was more worrying, with 40 per cent of workers having no access to paid leave including sick and annual leave.

"No secure job at all and no ability to have paid time off with their families," Ms Kearney said.

"We have to change the rules so all workers can have secure jobs with paid leave."