"Sick-note culture harms the
In November 1998, the UK government declared war on absenteeism.
The Daily Mail quickly agreed that "sick-note
culture" was harming Britain's economy. This theme is
often revisited by politicians and media.
Although sometimes presented in a humorous way, the media
stance feeds into the bigger fallacy that Britain's economic
woes are caused by lazy, irresponsible individuals (rather
than by political mismanagement/corruption).
Here are some of the typical low-level fallacies:
costs the taxpayer £600 million a year". This
is a dubious claim for two reasons:
1) It assumes that absentees would be productive at work.
It's more likely they'd be unproductive. In other words, the
£600 million cost may be due to lack of motivation,
not absenteeism. Who/what is responsible for lack of motivation?
That's a hard question for many employers.
2) It makes weakly-supported assumptions about the proportion
of claimed sickness which isn't genuine.
are effectively stealing from their employers".
Unless an employer successfully prosecutes, this is a "guilty
until proven innocent" stance (ie it's invalid).
Would jury members be able to keep straight faces?
absenteeism during World Cup finals proves the case".
All it proves (if true) is that absenteeism correlates with
some football matches. It doesn't prove anything about harm
to the economy.
"Absenteeism signifies a bad
attitude". Or it may signify merely that many
workers are fed up with excessively long working hours, unpaid
overtime and/or absurdly low holiday entitlements.
"Everyone needs to be vigilant".
The implication is that absenteeism is a huge problem affecting
"everyone". A bigger problem may be the vast number
of people who go into work when they are genuinely sick (spreading
the illness or endangering others).
See also: Why
phoning in sick is good for the economy >