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Non-Labour Day: Having a ‘long weekend sickie’ could cost $980 million in lost productivity

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This coming weekend could be a popular reason for millions of Aussie workers to wag work on Friday or Monday, according to Finder.

Workers in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland will celebrate a public holiday this coming weekend.

A new Finder survey revealed 1 in 4 (25%) Australian workers – equivalent to 3.5 million people – have called in sick for a non-health related reason so far this year, costing employers approximately $368 per worker, per day.

As such, 'wagging work' around the long weekend could set employers back $980 million in lost productivity.

Sarah Megginson, money expert at Finder, said Friday (or Monday if you're in VIC) is shaping up to be a popular day to give work the flick.

"Many people look at the October public holiday as the last proper break before Christmas – the final sprint to the festive season.

"It's also the start of warmer weather so plenty of crowds are expected to hit the beach, with many popular camping spots booked out months in advance."

Finder's research found 1 in 5 (19%) Aussie employees had taken a sick day in the last 12 months just to 'have a day off'.

Going shopping (9%), spending a day at the beach (8%), and taking care of a pet (7%) are reasons Aussies have taken a day off.

Millennials and gen Z (19%) were almost twice as likely as gen X (11%) to have called in sick just to 'have a day off'.

Megginson suggested Aussies should apply for annual leave rather than dipping into sick leave entitlements.

"Sick leave is a safety net if you genuinely get an unexpected illness or injury that requires you to take time off.

"I had to take a week off unexpectedly this year when I had a surprise kidney infection – knowing I could focus on my health and I didn't have to worry about money was a real blessing.

"Ideally you want to keep your sick leave balance intact for when you really need it.

"And don't forget – if you use your sick leave to take a cheeky day off when you're not actually unwell, posting about your adventures on social media could be your undoing," Megginson said.

Just 1 in 5 (20%) Aussie workers haven't taken a single sick day so far in 2023, while a further 35% have only taken sick days when genuinely unwell.

Have you taken a sick day in the last 12 months to do any of the following?
To secure concert tickets3%
Taking care of a pet7%
Go to the beach8%
Taking care of a sick family member12%
Have a day off19%
Mental health day19%
I haven't taken any sick days this year20%
I've only taken sick days when I've been sick35%
Source: Finder survey of 719 Australian workers, August 2023

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