Wellbeing | Nine out of ten employees came into work sick last year

Nine out of ten employees came into work sick last year

Nine out of ten workers went into work while sick last year – with one in five worried they would appear weak if they took a day off to recover, according to research from Canada Life Group Insurance.

Nearly half (47%) of the 1,001 UK employees polled said they didn’t take a sick day in 2017, with over half (53%) stating that even though they were unwell they felt it did not warrant a day off. A quarter (25%) said their workload was too great for them to take time off and one in ten (9%) admitted they didn’t feel secure enough in their role to take a sick day.

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The majority of those who took time off for illness in 2017 were out of the office for between one and five days. Overall, the number who took this amount of time off remained fairly static, at 30% in 2016 and 28% in 2017. However, around one in twelve (8%) took between 11 and 20 sick days in total – the highest proportion since 2015.

The researchers also asked employees how they thought their colleagues would perceive them if they chose to take a day off due to illness.

How do you feel you would be perceived by others if you were to take time off for a short-term illness?

% of employees





















Paul Avis, Marketing Director at Canada Life Group Insurance, explained that presenteeism is a vicious cycle. “The drive to remain in the office can cause illness to spread or end up leading to a longer recovery time,” he said.

“It is encouraging to see that many employees view those taking time off for illness in a positive way, being described as genuine, honest and sensible.

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"To reduce presenteeism, these positive perceptions must be encouraged so workplaces can reduce any stigma attached to taking time off.

“Failing to take a sick day can have a significant impact on business performance as employees fail to recuperate properly. As well as changing perceptions, employers can offer much more to support staff when they are unwell.”

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Comments (1)

  • Sir
    Fri, 28 Sep 2018 1:25pm BST
    The subtext of all this is encouraging employees to take time off with even the most minor of ailments - like a sniffle.
    Has Generation Snowflake completely taken over ?
    Rule number 5 !

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