Is anyone still here?

Empty office cubicles

TEXT OF STORYLISA NAPOLI: Just in time for the unofficial start of summer on Monday, Merrill Lynch is on to its employees' wily ways. The company's just slashed the number of sick days they allot workers, in part because of the employees' tendency to call in sick on summer Fridays. Ashley Milne-Tyte looks at how much of a problem this is for business.


ASHLEY MILNE-TYTE: It's pretty hard to tell — after all, managers can't prove employees missing on summery days aren't genuinely ill. Some bosses may not mind.

George Faulkner of Mercer Health and Benefits says in the public sector, sick days are seen as an entitlement. You can use them for whatever you want, as long as you stay within your limit, but . . .

GEORGE FAULKNER: In the corporate world, the for-profit world, that's not the case, even if some employees have that perception.

Faulkner cites a 2006 survey by the company Commerce Clearing House, which found:

FAULKNER: Only about a third or so of the sick time is really for the employees' own illness.

The other two-thirds, the survey says, is used partly to look after sick kids or parents.

But managers put 18 percent of employee absences down to stress and 11 percent to what the survey calls "entitlement mentality"— something that occasionally crops up on a sunny Friday.

In New York, I'm Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.

About the author

Ashley Milne-Tyte is the host of a podcast about women in the workplace called The Broad Experience.

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