65% of remote working UK staff are less likely to take sick leave

sick leaveNew research has revealed that two-thirds (65%) of UK employees said they are less likely to take sick leave when working remotely.

HR software provider Breathe conducted a survey across 1,264 UK small to medium sized enterprise (SME) employees, looking into the current state of wellbeing among them and asking a range of questions covering sick leave, mental health and remote working.

The data revealed that among those who felt unwell but did not take sick leave, 32% could not financially afford to take time off work, 25% were too busy to take time off and 20% felt pressured to work through it.

Furthermore, 41% said their symptoms were not bad enough to take sick leave, 36% reported mental health issues in the past three months and 12% have taken sick leave for mental health reasons.

In addition, 67% said that working from home improves their work-life balance, however 54% admitted that they are still more likely to work longer hours than usual.

Almost half (48%) are offered flexible working, whereas 27% are not offered it but would find it the most useful benefit. Just under three-quarters (72%) of SMEs do not offer wellbeing days despite 35% of employees saying that they would be helpful.

Rachel King, UK general manager at Breathe, said: “The benefits for mental and physical wellbeing that come from a flexible approach to work patterns have been widely discussed but are still so important. That said, working from home has proven effective for many people, but crucially not for all.

“It’s often the case that people find themselves working longer hours and taking less sick leave, under pressure to be seen as super productive when working remotely. Focusing on creating a culture that supports flexible working as standard can benefit teams and improve productivity if handled intentionally.”