Heavy workload prevents 32% from taking time off when ill

Almost a third (32%) of workers do not take time off work when ill because of a heavy workload, according to research by group risk provider Canada Life Group Insurance.


Its survey of 1,000 workers also found that 21% are concerned about the financial implications of taking time off work due to sickness.

The research also found:

  • 89% have attended work when ill.
  • 13% of respondents do not feel secure enough in their job to have time off when ill, and a further 13% say that colleagues and senior members of staff make them feel guilty when they do stay at home.
  • 13% are worried co-workers will perceive them as lazy for taking time off for illness, and 10% feel co-workers would perceive them as weak or inconsiderate.
  • 80% would not take time off for stress-related illnesses, compared to 36% who would not take time off for a stomach virus and 49% for the flu.
  • 13% of respondents would only call in sick if they were hospitalised.
  • Just 8% of respondents have access to an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) in their place of work, while 9% have a helpline or external organisation they can contact if they become ill for an extended period of time.
  • Almost half (45%) are unaware if their organisation offers any sickness absence support and 16% say their employer does not provide any support.
  • 9% of respondents believe their health and wellbeing is their employer’s top priority, while 28% say a rehabilitation programme would provide them with peace of mind.

Paul Avis, marketing director at Canada Life Group, said: “Presenteeism shows no sign of letting up in the UK workforce, suggesting employers need to do more to promote health and wellbeing in their organisation. Not only would this be beneficial to employees’ welfare, it would also benefit the business as a whole in the long run by improving productivity and preventing the spread of illness among co-workers.

“Particularly concerning is the seemingly low value employees place on mental illnesses, with far too many willing to come into work while suffering from this.

“At a time when recruitment and retention is increasingly crucial, ensuring employees feel valued and secure is a vital element to this. Employers should have a clear sickness absence system in place to assure employees they will not be penalised or face any recrimination for taking time off when they are genuinely unwell.”