Employees feel pressure to work when unwell

More than two-thirds (70%) of respondents to research by Capita Employee Benefits said it is becoming increasingly common for them to attend work while unwell.

The research, which polled 3,000 employees, found that 59% of respondents feel more pressure to go to work while ill than they used to.

Despite this, 78% recognise that colleagues who are genuinely sick should stay at home until they get better for the benefit of both themselves and those around them.

It also found that 63% of respondents went to work the last time they were ill, while almost half (47%) are worried what their employer will think of them if they take time off to visit their doctor or dentist.  

Robin Hames, head of marketing for Capita Employee Benefits (pictured), said: “Far from being a nation of skivers, this research shows UK employees are feeling pressure to work while they are unwell, potentially putting their own and their colleagues’ health at risk. 

“Whether this pressure is real or imagined, articulating a sensible approach to health and absenteeism helps avoid encouraging potentially infectious people into the workplace.

“The term presenteeism, which was coined to describe being at work while unwell or out of hours, has gained momentum during the economic turbulence of recent years, but being present doesn’t always equate to being productive. 

“Taking an integrated approach to workplace health goes beyond being a good corporate citizen. It can improve the impact of health management programmes, reduce costs and support productivity. 

“Rates and reasons for absenteeism and, indeed, presenteeism, vary between sectors, but strong management data and technology can support sustainable attendance levels and help to manage any health or business continuity impacts before problems escalate.”