A Quarter of UK Employees Would Have to Be Hospitalised Before They Took a Sick Day

In Business, Industry News by PCH Staff

Almost a quarter of UK workers say they would only take time off work if they were hospitalised and had no other choice, new research reveals.

The research commissioned by Canada Life Group Insurance discovered that a staggering 23% of UK workers – equivalent to around seven million individuals – would only take a sick day if they were hospitalised or had absolutely no other choice.

It’s not surprising then that the survey also found nine in 10 (89%) employees have gone into work when feeling sick – a revelation that highlights just how prevalent the worrying trend of presenteeism is.

Perhaps more concerning is the fact that the number of people going to work when sick has hardly changed at all since the 2016 survey found that 90% of employees had done so, suggesting efforts by employers to improve wellbeing in the workplace are failing to combat presenteeism.

Specifically, 47% of respondents in this year’s survey said they would still go into work if they had a stomach bug and more than half (55%) would go into work if they had the flu, even though they could pass their illness onto their co-workers. In fact, 48% of workers said they have become unwell due to a workmate’s illness on more than one occasion.

The reasons why employees still go into work when they feel unwell make for sobering reading too. The majority (69%) said it was because they felt their sickness didn’t justify a day off, while a third (34%) said their high workloads played a big roles. Almost a quarter (22%) said it was for financial reasons.

Workers also voiced their concerns about how they would be perceived if they took time off for an illness. Almost a fifth (17%) said they were worried about coming across as weak for taking time off because of a short-term sickness. A further 14% said they worried about being seen as lazy, while 13% said it might look as though they weren’t dedicated.

Commenting on the findings of the research, Paul Avis, Marketing Director at Canada Life Group Insurance, said: “It is incredibly worrying it would take something as serious as being hospitalised to dissuade a quarter of British employees from going into work, showing that a “stiff upper lip” culture of presenteeism still pervades the British workforce.

“We need to be clearer with employees – they should only come in to work when fully fit and able to do so, be it physically or mentally.”Unlike absenteeism, presenteeism isn’t always easy to spot or monitor.

Presenteeism is a phenomenon that is characterised by tired, unmotivated and sick employees who go to work regardless of how bad they’re feeling. Not only does it cause productivity to drop, but it also adversely impacts workplace morale and safety.

Unlike absenteeism, presenteeism is much more difficult to spot and monitor. The two combined (absenteeism and presenteeism) cost the UK economy an incredible £73 billion a year, according to a study released earlier this year.

Is presenteeism at work creating more absence related issues across your business in the long term. Do you have the right workplace support and process in place to tackle this?

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