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Two in five adults would pull a sickie to avoid work

Many are prepared to cover for colleagues who are faking illness

Two in five adults would fake a sick day if they needed a day off work, a poll reveals.

The Com Res survey for the BBC found people admitted to lying about sickness, stealing and taking credit for other people’s work.

Although younger staff lied more often than their elders, they were more willing to stand up for colleagues.

As well as faking sickies, employees are often prepared to cover for colleagues who they know might be faking it. The survey found that 66% would not tell bosses if they knew their colleagues were absent but not ill.

Hayley Lewis, an occupational psychologist, said it takes confidence for an employee to tell their boss they need a break, and if the relationship is bad employees will tend to be less truthful.

“We look to role models. If the boss is dragging themselves in, not taking breaks, eating lunch at their desk, it reinforces the message that it is not okay to take a break,” she added.

Men were almost twice as likely as women to say they would accept praise from a boss for work that someone else had done.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show the average worker takes about four sick days a year. The most common reasons for calling off work in 2018 were the common cold, musculoskeletal problems and mental health conditions.