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Seven out of 10 UK workers go to work even when sick

By July 17, 2017June 4th, 2018Current Affairs, HR Research, Top Tip
Sick Absence | HR Solutions

Workers in the UK believe their employers value the company’s performance ahead of the health and wellbeing of the workforce.Research has found that millions of employees still go to work despite being ill, with workers worrying about taking time off sick because of heavy workloads and employers’ expectations.


The survey by insurance company, Aviva, found that 70% of employees go into work despite being sick – equivalent to 18 million employees across the country. Around 40% of respondents said they felt their employer prioritised the organisation’s performance before the health and wellbeing of staff. Worryingly, at least 40% of respondents admitted they worried that work would pile up if they were off work when they were sick. That’s despite people being less productive when they work while they are sick.

Absence statistics for 2016

According to the Office for National Statistics, sick leave is on the decline across the UK.

•  Number of sick days taken annually by UK employees in 2016 fell to its lowest level in 25 years.
•  Last year workers took on average 4.3 days off work because of illness (down from 7.2 days in 1993).
•  In total, the UK lost around 137 million working days due to illness and injury in 2016. This is down from 185 million in 1999, despite there now being a larger workforce.

Pressure of coming into work threatens morale and productivity

However, having employees at work who are unwell could be a false economy for employers. Feeling pressured to come into work when ill poses a threat to the overall business performance as a direct result of the impact on morale and productivity in the workplace.

Employers should concentrate on creating a culture where employees don’t feel under pressure to come into work when they sick. And f employees should know that there are appropriate measures in place to effectively manage their work during their absence. Organisations, which take the health and wellbeing of their employees and workplace seriously will find they benefit from a far happier and more productive workforce.


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