Employers seek to curb summer absenteeism

July 3, 2007 at 9:15 AM

NEW YORK, July 3 (UPI) -- U.S. employers are seeking creative approaches to stop healthy employees from calling in sick to enjoy summer weather, a costly productivity problem.

Approaches include granting "half-day Fridays," compressed work weeks or new types of vacation programs, USA Today reported Tuesday.

Nearly 40 percent of fulltime U.S. employees have called in sick to enjoy a day off during the summer, a Harris Interactive survey found.

The top reason cited for faking illness was a wish for a mental health day. The most common days to call in sick were Friday and Monday.

Unscheduled absenteeism cost some employers $850,000 a year in direct payroll costs, said a 2006 survey by CCH Inc., a U.S. provider of tax, audit and accounting information.

The problem is more likely "when morale is low, they feel burned out or there's no flexibility," CCH workplace analyst Pamela Wolf told USA Today.

Deloitte & Touche gives employees an additional four days off between U.S. Memorial Day in May and Labor Day in September so they and the company can plan the extra summer time off.

Johnson & Wales University, in Providence, R.I., lets employees leave at 1 p.m. Fridays between May and August, USA Today said.

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