Sick staff feel pressured to go to work

One in four UK employees went to work in January despite being ill, according to a YouGov poll commissioned by the Trade Union Congress (TUC).

Nearly a quarter (24%) of UK staff turned up at work feeling unwell, although more felt pressured not to let their colleagues down, rather than their employer.

More women were worried about letting down fellow workers than male counterparts, the survey found. Almost a quarter (24%) of women reported this concern, compared with 18% of men.

Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, warned HR to communicate to line managers that allowing ill staff to come to work only harms productivity in the long run. He said: “Coughs and sneezes still spread diseases, and the worst thing you can do to your workmates is pass on your illness.”

A further 57% of respondents claimed they had gone to work when feeling ill over the past 12 months, though just 12% reported that they had never gone to work while ill.

A similar poll conducted by the TUC in 2004 reported that one in five (19%) respondents said they had been to work in the past month when too ill to do so – suggesting that employees may have struggled into work regardless of the present economic conditions where they might be fearful over the security of their job.

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