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Spring sunshine sends sickie soaring

With March temperatures soaring, offices around the country are being given the cold shoulder as thousands of employees called in sick today.

Record breaking weekend temperatures, making the UK hotter than both Spain and Italy, are being blamed as the number of people ringing in sick trebled.

Peter Mooney head of employment law at business support specialist ELAS, said: “We usually see a rise in absenteeism when the weather gets really nice in July or August, but we’ve never seen a spike like this in March.

“Our clients have had around three times as many people call in sick today as they had last Monday, and whether it’s to enjoy today’s sunshine or to recover from spending yesterday in the beer garden, it seems the sunshine is to blame.”

ELAS supports thousands of businesses across the country with their employment law and health and safety needs.

It monitors absenteeism through its Absence Assist service, whereby clients’ staff phone a trained absence manager rather than phoning – or even texting – their boss to ring in sick.

Mr Mooney added: “What has changed in the past couple of years is that bosses are now, finally tackling absenteeism head-on by setting more rigid policies and using services such as Absence Assist both to help enforce them, and to make sure that the genuinely ill get the attention they require as soon as possible.

“As a result, not only are businesses finding that staff are able to receive treatment and return to work more quickly, but those who maybe aren’t as unwell as they claim only dare ring in sick for one day at a time.

“With that in mind, if the sun really is to blame for today’s sickness, then everyone should be back at their desks tomorrow.”

After a weekend in which parts of Scotland recorded their highest March temperatures since 1965, forecasters today said they expected the sunshine and high temperatures to continue for the week before returning to more normal March levels by the weekend.