Employees 'calling in sick' as swine flu fears spread
New figures have revealed that many employees are calling in sick for work as concern about the spread of swine flu increases.
According to the Institute of Payroll Professionals (IPP), unauthorised absence can ruin a firm's productivity and have a major impact on its bottom line.
This comes as statistics from FirstCare show that on Monday, over 27,000 people took Monday off, stating cold, cough and flu symptoms as the reason for their absence.
Lindsay Melvin, chief executive of the IPP, said: "Everybody gets sick and employers understand that the majority of absence is genuine. However, Monday's absence figures, which coincided with outbreaks of swine flu being seen on the news were very alarming."
A spokesperson for ClickAJob is more sceptical.
"Health experts have told us repeatedly we're safe enough if we practice basic hygiene and warned us not to over-react," he says.
"Stay-aways always increase when there's a bank holiday weekend and swine flu is a very plausible-sounding and uncheckable pretext," he points out.
"Right now managers are on the hook to justify any expense, so that any employee who goofs off with a sniffle claiming swine flu is likely to be looked at very carefully," he asserts.
"Obviously if you're really sick it's essential to stay away and easy enough to prove - but staff who take chances should be aware they risk being tagged as malingerers."
The World Health Organisation has now raised the alert level from phase four to five with a warning that a swine flu pandemic is on the cards.