67% go to work when ill

More than two-thirds (67%) of respondents have gone to work when they were sick, according to research by Axa PPP Healthcare.


Its online research, which surveyed 2,000 employees, found that 21% of respondents blamed a heavy workload for going to work when they were ill.

Other reasons included:

  • 18% felt guilty about staying away from work.
  • 12% cited pressure from their boss or workmates.
  • 8% feared for their job security.

Among respondents who went into work when they were sick, 3% said their managers refused to let them go home early. In London, this figure rose to 12%.

The research also found the most common ailments affecting the working sick were colds and flu, cited by 47% of respondents.

Nearly a fifth (17%) blamed headaches, while 11% cited musculoskeletal problems and 6% said stress, anxiety and depression or digestive problems were the causes of their illness.

Dr Steve IIey, medical director, occupational health at Axa PPP Healthcare, said: “It’s concerning that employees who are genuinely sick are coming into work because of perceived pressure from bosses and workmates and heavy workloads.

“Employers should recognise this and make a considered effort to ensure that their employees know when it’s okay to take time off sick.

“To manage performance more effectively, employers should include management of sickness presenteeism as part of a good absence policy, one that advises employees what to do when they are sick, whom they should contact and where to seek suitable advice if necessary; for example, from support services such as a health information helpline, if available.

“Employers should also ensure that managers are properly trained and supported to implement the policy.

“This sort of approach should be an integral part of a health and wellbeing strategy and will, in turn, help to create a positive workplace culture where employees are properly supported to do their best.”