Work and Wellbeing · 2 May 2018

“Shocking” increase of UK employees working while ill

Staff sick days are at their lowest level since 1993.

According to new research, this year employers have observed a “shocking” increase of staff working while ill, or “presenteeism”.

A report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), 86 per cent of staff have witnessed sick employees coming to work.

In comparison with 2010 figures, this number has shot up rapidly by 60 per cent. Additionally, employees are also finding a surge of their workforce willing to work on holiday.

Commenting on the rise, Rachel Suff, senior employment relations adviser at the CIPD, said: “Too few organisations are discouraging unhealthy workplace practices and tackling stress, which is strongly linked to health conditions such as anxiety and depression.”

Suff went on to say that the problem is shocking and that “people feel under even more pressure to work,” therefore employers need to do more to tackle the problem.

In 2016, 137 million days were taken off work by the UK workforce which is the equivalent to of 4.3 days per worker and the lowest on record (ONS).

UK workers were referred to as “mucus troopers” by the TUC for their resilient attitudes to work, as when records began in 1993 the equivalent of 7.2 days were lost.

Commenting on this, Martin Talbot, Director at Totaljobs said: “Reports that sick days are at their lowest level since 1993 comes as no surprise.

“Totaljobs’ recent research revealed that the presenteeism culture is rife in the UK workforce, with over a third of British employees feeling pressured to work overtime for fear of being judged by bosses and colleagues.”

Experts suggested that due to absenteeism and presenteeism – when employees are at work but are not on top form, businesses lose out on millions of pounds.

Public Health England said that if employers designated a place and time for staff to rest at work it would help boost productivity and staff sleep better at night.

Talbot added: “Worryingly, this culture is hugely damaging to the productivity of our workforce. As a nation, we are placing more importance on hours spent at our desks, rather than results achieved.

“It’s vital that employees recognise the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance – whether that’s taking a sick day when necessary, or simply leaving work on time – our productivity will thrive as a result.”

The UK’s ten worst sickie excuses used to get out of work

Separate survey findings recently revealed the ten worst excuses given by employees to get out of work.

  1. “I have blisters from wearing new shoes on Saturday night”
  2. “I’ve got a terrible migraine (also known as a hideous hangover)”
  3. “My hamster is sick and needs to go to the vet”
  4. “I left my work uniform on the bus”
  5. “I lost a darts tournament last night and I am too traumatised to come in”
  6. “A tree has fallen down onto my property and it needs to be cleared/made safe”
  7. “My boyfriend changed his relationship status on Facebook to single”
  8. “There are cows in my garden so I can’t get to work”
  9. “ I didn’t get to bed until late so I’m too tired to come in”
  10. “I’m having a BBQ at the weekend and need time to prepare”

Commenting on Britain’s worst sickie excuses, CV-Library founder Lee Biggins said employees had begun to realise their decisions “have a wider impact on their team and workload”.

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Carly Hacon is a reporter for Business Advice. She has a BA in journalism from Kingston University, and has previously worked as a features editor for a local newspaper.

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