Over 50s workforce saving UK businesses the cost of lost sick days claims new research

14th May 2015


Britain’s more senior citizens and most experienced workers are also the most reliable when it comes to work claims a new report from insurance provider RIAS.

The group’s research found that workers aged over 50 continue to do their part for the economic recovery and their work ethic and dedication to the job stands out against their younger colleagues.  The findings come as another recent report found over one million older people have been pushed out of the labour market for reasons beyond their control.

Amongst UK workers, just under half, at 44% of those aged 20-39, have admitted to lying to their boss and pulling a sickie at some point in the last five years. This is compared to a mere 12 per cent of those aged over 50. Surprisingly the more mature generation also appear to be the healthier with only a quarter, at 26% having taken an actual day off sick in the last year. This is compared to just over half, at 53% of those aged 20-29.

Additional Holiday

A different – and not always great – attitude to work amongst the generations seems to be an important factor in the latest findings. Three in ten, at 29% of 20-39 year olds see sick leave as an ‘additional holiday’ that they deserve and are entitled to whilst only four per cent of those aged over 50 agree.

Top reasons for pulling a sickie

Too tired to get up 28 per cent
Felt I deserved a day off due to working hard recently 23 per cent
Just didn’t want to go in 23 per cent
To avoid a colleague 18 per cent
Hungover 16 per cent
Had something planned and didn’t want to use up holiday 14 per cent

*Reasons for pulling a sickie from all UK adults who have pulled a sickie in the last 12 months

Work Ethic

The differing work ethic between generations is also highlighted by people taking off more days than they need to when they’ve been absent through illness.  Just over half, at 55% of those aged 20-39 who took time off work admitted to taking off more time than was necessary when they were ill in the past year. The majority of the reliable over 50s choose to return to work as soon as possible following an illness with only 12% taking more time than they actually needed.

One of the reasons the over 50s make for more reliable workers is perhaps their experience in looking after themselves. Among those that had taken time off ill in the past 12 months only 11% cited the common cold as the cause compared to a massive 42% of 20-29 year olds. On average, amongst those who took time off in the past year, 20-39 year olds were off on three separate occasions compared to the over 50s who were off twice.  Additionally, with people working longer into their retirement and the State Pension Age continuing to rise, older workers are keen to hold onto their jobs for longer and, to make the best impression, may take less sick days.

Commenting on the analysis, Peter Corfield, managing director at RIAS said: “Over 50s workers continue to be a vital part of the British workforce and they should be recognised for the contribution they make. They bring a wealth of experience, ambition and knowledge that cannot be underestimated. It is key that we understand that workers in their 50s and 60s are not ‘old’, they are hardworking and dedicated, and very much want to work.

“The added benefit to UK business in employing more mature workers is that if they take less time off sick, businesses will save a small fortune in lost sick days every year.”

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