TUC urges ‘mucus troopers’ to stay at home

A
new poll reveals that one in five workers have gone to work while ill in the
past month, and nearly half say they have done so in the past year.

The
TUC claims that too many people may now be going to work when they would be
better off recovering at home.

White
collar workers and those in the West Midlands are the most likely to struggle
into work when ill.

The
TUC says that campaigns for cold remedies too often focus on trying to frighten
people into what would happen if they do not struggle into work. Other ad
campaigns that encourage people to pull a ‘sickie’ are also wrong. Online bank
Egg recently sent an e-mail to customers that included: "Can’t face the
thought of work? Then throw a sickie and bed down for the day, where all you
need to think about is how to pamper yourself next."

The
TUC poll shows that the most common reason people give for going to work when
too ill is that "people depend on the job I do, and I didn’t want to let
them down" (42 per cent). A significant minority (16 per cent) said they
went to work because they "would have lost pay, and couldn’t afford
it".

TUC
general secretary Brendan Barber said: "We are not a nation of
malingerers. In fact, we struggle into work even when we are too ill to do so
because we don’t want to let people down. It’s all part of our long-hours
culture. Indeed long hours, stress and increasing workloads make people sick.

"Ads
that one minute tell us we will lose out at work if we admit we’re ill, and the
next encourage us to take a ‘sickie’ don’t help.

"Of
course employers will want to deal with malingerers, but they should also make
sure that people who are genuinely ill stay at home. The rest of us don’t want
to do extra work for those pulling a ‘sickie’, but nor do we want to pick up
germs from colleagues or those with whom we share over-crowded public
transport. The TUC’s message is don’t be a mucus trooper. Look after yourself
properly."

The
poll was carried out by BMRB as part of an omnibus telephone poll of 1,001
people conducted Jan 17-18 2004.

By Quentin Reade

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