Find out more about sick leave in Ireland and people’s views on working when ill, faking a sick day and whether or not duvet days should become the norm. See the summary of our results below:

Nearly half of Ireland’s workers ‘pull a sickie’

Hangover a significant factor for absenteeism

60% of workers resent colleagues who come to work when sick

Ireland’s workers want more time off, according to our survey.

More than 49% of people in Ireland take at least one bogus sick day from work each year, and more than one third (35%) allow themselves three days leave for non-existent illnesses.

The Matrix Recruitment Sick Day survey of 400+ respondents found that hangovers were a significant factor in 24% of cases, but that more men than women (37% v 18%) allowed themselves an unofficial sick day as a result of alcohol-induced illness.

More women than men (57% versus 37%) called in sick when they felt that they were having a bad week and Joanne Foley of Matrix Recruitment contends that the pressures of work may be a cause for people calling in sick.  “Having a bad week means different things to different people but it is generally accepted that we are working longer hours and that the pressures of work are greater now than ever before.  This impacts people in different ways, but it’s not unusual to have a bad week because of work pressure and if that’s leading to more sick days, genuine or otherwise, that is not a good sign.”

  • 36% of respondents claimed that tiredness or a late night caused their unofficial absence from work, while almost one in four (24%), simply felt they deserved to take a day off.
  • Men take more bogus sick days than women, with 31% of men clocking up four ‘sickies’ during the year compared to 13% of women.


  • Although more than two thirds of respondents felt it was perfectly acceptable to ‘pull a sickie’, 69% of women and 53% of men felt guilty for doing so.
  • Most people surveyed (94%) contend that the majority of people take a bogus sick day at some stage in their working life, which perhaps appeases any feelings of guilt.

“Whilst many people feel guilty for taking a sick day when not sick at all, there’s a sense that it’s an acceptable thing to do, because everyone else is doing it,” said Joanne Foley. “But, with an estimated 11 million days lost through absenteeism every year at a cost of €1.5bn to the Irish economy, it would be interesting to know how many of these days were lost to phantom illnesses.”


  • 85% of survey respondents in full-time employment receive at least 20 days holidays, each year.
  • However, 58% of Ireland’s workers say that they do not get sufficient time off from work and would like a significant number of additional days.
  • 45% of those surveyed stated that they should receive an extra five days; 20% would be content with four more and 21% would like three more days of holiday leave, according to the Matrix Recruitment Sick Day survey.
  • The survey also found that when it comes to either leaving or taking a job, the amount of holiday leave on offer is a factor for 67% of respondents.
  • Almost one in five (19%) would take a salary cut in exchange for more holidays and 35% said they would consider it.

Many employers have introduced the concept of the ‘Duvet Day’; an unscheduled but approved day off that an employee can take without notice.

  • Unsurprisingly, the majority of Ireland’s workers felt that this concept should be introduced more widely across workforces, with more women than men (88% versus 78%) supporting the idea.


  • If you are genuinely ill, stay at home and keep your germs to yourself say 62% of women and 47% of men who resent a co-worker attending work when sick.

“If you are not well, attending work can slow down your recovery and there is every chance that you will spread a communicable disease if you have a cold or flu virus.  No one will thank you for that and it’s in everyone’s interest that you stay at home; although men seem less worried than women about this issue,” said Joanne Foley.

“What we found interesting, but not surprising, is that there is resentment towards colleagues who take a lot of sick days,” said Joanne.  60% of people resent a colleague who takes multiple sick days.


  • 89% of people in Ireland have gone to work when they knew they should have called in sick.

“When you look at the reasons why people go to work when poorly, this becomes a significant finding,” according to Joanne Foley.

  • 52% of women and 60% of men reported feeling pressure from work and worried about work piling up, so attended despite an illness, according to the Matrix Recruitment findings.
  • 50% of people say that they feel guilty phoning in sick, even when they are genuinely ill and 44% of workers say that they are afraid to phone in sick.

“It’s quite alarming when you hear that people are afraid to phone in sick or that they feel guilty for doing so.  The world of work has evolved considerably and we are living and working in an era where we are ‘always on’.  However, no one should feel afraid or guilty and if they do, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate their working life,” said Joanne.

  • The Matrix Recruitment Sick Day survey found that on average, 65% of people in Ireland take between one and three official sick days a year. 19% of workers never call in sick.

The Matrix Recruitment survey was conducted online in January 2019 among 403 workers.       @Matrixrecruit                #MatrixSickDaySurvey

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View survey infographic here