Customer services are sick

People working in customer services, including call centres, are more likely to call in sick than any other workers in Britain, according to figures published yesterday by the Office of National Statistics.

They revealed that customer service workers are nearly twice as likely to take time off sick as the average employee. In the survey, 4.8% had taken at least a day off in the previous week, compared with the national average of 2.5%.

When The Guardian newspaper tried to talk to the Call Centre Management Association about this phenomenon, it got an answer machine.

Instead it managed to speak to Karen Darby, who it describes as a call centre veteran who founded the price comparison service SimplySwitch.

She was quoted saying that she was not surprised by the figures and that they had little to do with call centre workers being more sickly than average.

'It is a reflection of the type of people who work in call centres"&brkbar;They are notoriously underpaid and, you know, if you pay peanuts"&brkbar;Not many people will admit this, but some call centres will go through 100% staff turnover every year,' she told the newspaper.

Interestingly, given the general level of grumpiness among Britain's travellers due to rotten service, only 0.8% of transport workers, including train drivers, pilots and air traffic controllers, had taken any time off. In fact, they are the most reliable workers in the country.

Perhaps it's the difference between physically in charge of something and listening to strings of furious people ranting about situations you have little control over‾