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There has bee a dramatic increase in the number of employees who take unnecessary absences from work, according to a survey by employment law firm Peninsula. Figures reveal that 85 per cent of businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to distinguish between genuine absences and those that are made up in order to skive off work.

Out of the 975 employers questioned, 85 per cent believed that uncertified absences had increased. When asked whether they had made up excuses like the classic last minute ‘doctors appointment’ to escape work, 91 per cent of employees admitted this to be the case.

Such figures are all the more worrying for the small business entrepreneur who relies on a small number of staff to keep their business running on a daily basis. Penisula MD Peter Done said: “From the results gathered from the survey we can clearly indicate that there is great concern for this new generation of skives, who are worryingly finding it easier to make up excuses in order to escape work.”

The figures will not make pleasant reading for Gordon Brown. The Chancellor recognised the scale of the problem in July’s spending review when he pledged to curb uncertified absences in the public sector. An average annual absence rate of 12 days will cost small businesses greatly and it is this growing culture of absenteeism that employers need to be prepared for.

Done concluded: "The priority for employers is to be aware that this problem is milking their business and hundreds of businesses around the country millions of pounds. It is not a problem which can be solved overnight. It is a problem which has to be implemented over time with both strict policies for absence and disciplinary procedures for those who have a running tendency to be absent through skiving.”

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