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BLUE MONDAY: Over 90 percent of UK workers go to work ill

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Today marks ‘Blue Monday’, the most depressing day of the year. However, new research from Office Angels suggests that far more people are likely to force themselves to go to work and suffer through the winter blues, rather than ‘bunking off’ sick and avoiding the day altogether. 

With sickness levels typically higher in January, than at other times of the year, the findings reveal that the real problem is not workers ‘pulling a sickie’ but rather more than nine in ten (92 percent) of UK workers are actually going  to work when ill. Forty percent of workers said they felt uncomfortable taking time off when ill. However this has serious implications on the health and wellbeing of UK workers – nearly three-quarters (71 percent) state that going to work when ill has resulted in them being sick for longer and a third (32 percent) said they were 50 percent less productive when ill at work. Over half (56 percent) of workers would prefer their sick colleagues to stay at home when ill to reduce the risk of spreading their germs to others in the office.

The research also found:

– Over one in ten (12 percent) workers, even if asked by their boss to stay at home, will still go to work when ill

– A fifth (20 percent) of bosses have sent ill employees home

– Two-fifths (40 percent) of workers do not have a good understanding of their legal entitlement to sick leav

– Workers in professional services feel more pressure to return to work after being sick than any other sector. Nearly two-thirds (61 percent) reluctant to take sick leave for fear of the hefty workload they would come back to and over a third (36 percent) are worried about missing deadlines

– Healthcare professionals are the most likely to switch off from work when on sick leave, with just a fifth (20 percent) continuing to work from home compared to the national average of 44 percent

– Over a quarter of workers (27 percent) haven’t taken a single sick day in the last 12 months

Chris Moore, Managing Director of Office Angels, said:“It is a clear misconception that employees ‘pulling a sickie’ is a big problem for UK employers. Our research demonstrates that UK workers will actually struggle through work when ill, with the vast majority not taking the sick leave they need, let alone feigning illness to get an extra day off.  “These findings suggest that workers feel pressured to be present in the workplace, regardless of whether they are well enough to be there. However, productivity actually suffers when workers refuse to take the time-off to recuperate and we know employees would prefer their sick colleagues to rest at home.

“While staff absence is not ideal, if workers feel their employer cares more about them getting their work done than their health, the longer-term effects on staff morale and loyalty could actually have a more detrimental impact on business. Having a process in place to support absence management can alleviate some of the pressure on sickly staff and those left holding the fort.”

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