Attitudes to sickness absence

A study by Benenden Healthcare suggests that women pull more sickies than men.

Researchers found blokes fail to make it to the office for a total of five months during their career while women take seven months of sick days, with stomach bugs, dizziness and full on viruses the most common ailments keeping them bed-bound.

But despite the figures, it emerged women are more likely to try their hardest to make it to their desk and feel guilty if they succumb to a bout of the sniffles and end up dumping their workload on colleagues. Men on the other hand are more likely to be called up by their boss because of their poor track record.

Lawrence Christensen of Benenden Healthcare says, “The age-old debate between the sexes continues as our research shows a difference between them when it comes to taking sick leave. Whilst men are less likely to shake off the man flu and go to work, women do end up taking more sick days across their careers. They might succumb to illness more easily, but women come out on top when it comes to dedication to work. Many men will pick up the phone as soon as they feel a little under the weather, whilst women soldier on for longer. However, in all cases, there seems to be a great pressure to battle on and make it into work. This is perhaps even more relevant considering the current weakness of the economy – are British workers being frowned upon if they take sick leave? Would employers rather their staff place their colleagues at risk of infection and illness? Employers need to ensure that their sickness absence management procedures are robust. Good, holistic approaches to employee health and wellbeing can result in greater productivity and lower instances of sickness absence.”

The representative study of 1000 men and 1000 women quizzed them on their attitudes and behaviours towards feeling ill, having to take time off work and drew gender comparisons. It found the average adult takes three and a half days off work a year because of illness – or 141 during their working life – with men taking 140 and women, 189.


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