Half of staff worry about disclosing health conditions during pandemic

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Almost half (47%) of employees would feel uncomfortable about telling their employer about a health concern during the coronavirus pandemic, research has found.

More than one in 10 of those surveyed by YouGov for healthcare company Reframe worried they would lose their jobs if they disclosed a serious medical condition such as cancer, a chronic illness, or a mental health concern. Those with children to support were the least likely to inform their manager about a health condition at this time (17%).

As many continue to work from home, a further fifth said they did not feel close enough to the manager to discuss a health concern over the phone or email.

“Coronavirus is affecting people in so many ways, and it’s incredibly worrying to see so many feel like they must hide their health concerns from their employers for fear of negative consequences,” said Tim Warren, commercial director at Reframe.

“Over the past few years, our economy has been making strides to improve transparency between employers and employees over illnesses like cancer or anxiety which can affect work. But the current circumstances of Covid-19 risks sending us many steps back and reaffirming damaging stigmas.

“We recognise that many employers are facing uncertainty about their businesses’ future. However we implore them to check in regularly with staff and ensure an open and honest dialogue is maintained throughout this time. Keeping illness hidden can cause psychological damage to people’s health, and at a time when we all need to support others as much as possible, employers have a duty to support their employees in more ways than just financially.”

Those aged 25-34 were the most concerned about their job security, with many trying to get on the property ladder or starting a family.

However, those aged 45-54 were most likely to be caring for older relatives who were unable to get every day essentials because they feared catching the virus. Around a fifth of employees across all age groups said they had experienced more pressure to care for others while continuing to work.

Those with three or more children to care for on top of work and other caring duties felt this pressure most acutely (36%).

Around 2,000 people took part in the YouGov survey commissioned by Reframe.

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