Nearly all UK employees will go to work when they are sick, Canada life has found.
The insurer is highlighting presenteeism concerns as it found 93% of UK employees attend whilst ill. Such is the fear of taking time off for sickness that over a third (36%) would rather use their annual holiday allowance than suffer a poor sickness record.
Over a third (37%) are unaware of any form of workplace support in terms of sickness absence, while 13% say that they definitely do not have this. Only one in ten (10%) have a helpline or external organisation they can contact, while only 15% have an Employee Assistance Programme.
With the Office of National Statistics showing the average number of sick days has fallen from 5.6 days a year in 2007 to 4.5 in 2011, Canada Life's asked why the UK's workers are so reluctant to take time off when they're ill.
The insurer found 76% work because they do not think their illness serious enough to warrant a day off. The pressure of a heavy workload dissuaded almost a third (31%) of workers from taking time off, while 20% worried about the financial implications.
A similar proportion (19%) say that other colleagues such as senior members of staff made them feel guilty for taking time off and one in eight (13%) felt too threatened by the risk of redundancy.
Unsurprisingly 81% have caught illnesses from other members of staff, with a fifth (20%) saying that it happens all the time. In addition over three quarters (82%) of those who came into work when they were unwell said they feel they performed worse.
Paul Avis, Marketing Director of Canada Life Group, said: "Employers need to do more to make their stance on sickness absence clear - the fact that 37% are not aware of any workplace support in terms of sickness absence shows that there is still some way to go.
"Employees should not be discouraged from taking time off when they are genuinely unwell, as presenteeism creates not only an unpleasant working environment but also one that is counter-productive."
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