This week’s Friday sickies could cost the economy millions

sick day, sick leave

Australian workers taking sick leave this Friday could result in hundreds of millions of dollars in lost productivity across the country, according to a new analysis by comparison website Finder.

As this Thursday has been designated as a national day of mourning to acknowledge the death of Queen Elizabeth II, employers across the country are preparing for workers to book furlough or call in sick the following day.

This could give workers a four-day weekend (the Victorians enjoy a Friday off as early as the Friday before the AFL Grand Final bank holiday).

Coincidentally, the Queen’s birthday public holiday in Western Australia falls on a Monday, meaning workers in WA who take this Friday off could bag a five-day weekend.

The cumulative impact of unbooked sickies could be monumental, Finder says.

Citing a new survey of more than 1,000 Australians, it said more than one in eight, or 1.7 million, have called in sick this year for reasons beyond their physical health.

On average, each individual sickie costs about $354 per worker, Finder adds.

The implications of these findings are significant: If even half of those who admitted to “throwing a sick” this year chose to stay away from work this Friday, Australia could expect to add more than $300 million in economic activity to lose.

Unexpected vacation costs can also come in other forms.

Accounting and HR leaders have already asked for patience as they adjust timesheets and payroll details to account for the unexpected Thursday holiday.

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Adding additional sick leave requests on Friday could mean even more work for staff who are already rushing to comply with business regulations in exceptional circumstances.

But the possibility of a tidal wave of sick leave this Friday may not all be bad news for employers, Finder says.

“Your sick leave should in most cases be considered a safety net for serious injury or illness, but there are times when it’s healthy to take a day for yourself,” said Taylor Blackburn, personal finance expert at Finder.

This idea speaks to the idea of ​​prioritizing employee mental health and allowing workers to take time off to protect their well-being – even if they are physically healthy.

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Seek data shows that 57% of applicants would prefer jobs that offer benefits such as “doona days,” a term for paid time off intended to protect employees’ mental health and prevent burnout.

Parts of the business community are also beginning to realize that offering mental health protection programs to employees can prevent unplanned absences later on.

Some business leaders even argue that downplaying the importance of employee mental health could undermine some of the commitments made at the recent Jobs and Skills Summit.

Unexpected “sickies” this Friday, seen as a mental health boost, could present businesses with an immediate handicap – but a respite for employees weathering the end of a long and difficult year.

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