The economic downturn is taking its toll on the nation’s health as almost a third of Brits confess they are more likely to go into work when they are sick because of the unstable financial climate.
Job insecurity fears are driving workers to risk their own health and that of their colleagues by venturing into work with contagious illnesses.
Nearly three quarters (72%) of the 1,600 participants polled said they went into work last year while sick.
Young people on lower salaries were the most likely to brave the office despite feeling ill. Nearly half (48%) of 16 to 24-year-olds said they were more likely to go into work sick because of the economic downturn and some 85% said they went into work sick last year.
The income group most likely to go into work sick was those earning less than £20,000 followed by those earning between £21,000 and £30,000 and then those earning between £31,000 and £50,000.
Raising concerns among health experts, more than half (53%) of those questioned risked spreading infection by heading into work with a contagious illness such as the flu or a cold in the past year.
Dr Andy Jones, Medical Director at Nuffield Health, said:
“’Presenteeism’ means those who are ill go into work sick, possibly infecting others. Any doctor would advise workers to stay at home and rest if they are unwell.”
Having too much work to do was the biggest driver for workers turning up on duty while sick but almost half said they did so out of fears for their job security.
Women were more likely than men to go into work because of the recession (33% compared to 27%) with the retail industry feeling the most pressure to turn up in spite of feeling ill.
Marcus Powell, Managing Director, Nuffield Health, Corporate Wellbeing, said:
“Employees going into work sick costs business dearly - up to £15bn a year. Our research shows the economic downturn has made people more likely to go into work sick often because they fear losing their job.”
In a report last year by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), ‘presenteeism’ was shown to worsen stress levels, negatively effect productivity by transfer of illness and the sick being unable to work effectively.
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