52% of Canadian workers play hooky

More than 50 per cent of Canadian workers admit to taking a day off work by falsely claiming to be sick, according to a new survey released this week.
Most workers said they faked being sick because they felt stressed and needed a day off. (iStock)

More than 50 per cent Canadian workers admitted to taking a day off work by falsely claiming to be sick, according to a new survey released this week.

However, playing hooky is far more popular in China where 71 per cent of workers say they’ve faked an illness. The Kronos Global Absence survey was conducted online in July and involved more than 9,400 respondents, two-thirds of whom were employed either full- or part-time.

The Harris Interactive Poll, commissioned by the Workforce Institute, an international employment think tank, also found that the vast majority of workers said they dodged their responsibilities because they felt stressed and needed a day off.

The survey did not include a margin of error because, according to an accompanying press release, Harris Interactive does not use the term. All polls, it says, are subject to multiple sources of error which are difficult to calculate. 

Workers in France topped the list in terms of honesty. Only 16 per cent said they had faked being sick.

Other countries included in the survey were: India where 62 per cent of workers have played hooky, Australia (58), Canada and the U.S. with 52 per cent, the U.K. (43) and Mexico (38).

Other findings include:

  • The most popular activity was staying home and watching TV. The second was simply staying in bed, except in Mexico and India where respondents said after TV they preferred meeting with friends and relatives.
  • Apart from feeling stressed, workers also said they played hooky to take care of a sick child or because they faced too heavy a workload.
  • The majority of all employees said they realized that fake absences had a negative effect on their colleagues who have to take on extra work.
  • With the exception of France, most said flexible work hours would reduce the number of spurious sick days. The French, the survey found, would prefer to be able to take Fridays off in the summer, provided they made the time up at another time.
  • According to survey released last year by Kronos Inc., unscheduled absences, including calling in sick at the last minute and extended disability, account for 8.7 per cent of all payroll costs.