Sickness presence sweeps Britain

Nearly three quarters go to work despite feeling so ill they could legitimately stay at home, a survey of Britain's working wounded shows.

The survey by AXA PPP healthcare indicates that, in the past six months alone, two thirds of working people have gone to work when they would have been well within their rights to stay at home. And during this time more than half have not taken a single day off sick.

So why are we dragging ourselves into work when we are so unwell? In the main it is for positive reasons, with 29% saying they do not want to let down their colleagues.

But there are some negative reasons, more based on fear. 24% say they just have too much work to do and 15% are worried their sick leave records could be used against them if their employer comes to making people redundant.

One in five even say that they've used up some of their annual leave entitlement to cover up for having to take time off sick. 32% say they did this because they did not get paid for sick days, while 26% are scared their sick leave record could be used against them if their employer comes to making people redundant.

Dudley Lusted of AXA PPP healthcare says: "Sickness absence is very often due to minor, self-limiting illnesses. Most employees continue to turn up for work when they are feeling under the weather. If they do have to take time off, they can be trusted to come back as soon as they feel well enough to work again. It is wrong to subject hard-working people to over zealous absence management methods such as having to report in sick to an occupational nurse ‘helpline' or even be subjected to a lie detector test. Some people with medical conditions put themselves at risk of being off long term sick. Back pain and other musculoskeletal problems and psychological problems such as stress, anxiety and depression are the problems that should be setting off alarm bells. For these, early access to diagnosis and treatment is key to an early return to health and back to work."

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