Employers to workers: Please stop dragging yourselves into work when you're sick

Emma Haslett
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Workers who drag themselves into work when they're ill are likely to report more health problems later (Source: Getty)

As the nights draw in and the temperatures drop, it turns out employers are living in fear of an unusual trend: workers slogging into work when they're sick.

A survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has found a third of employers have noticed an increase of people coming into work this year, even though they're beset by illness.

It's becoming a huge problem: businesses where staff can't bring themselves to take a day off are more than twice as likely to report a stress-related absence or an increase in mental health problems among their workers than those where staff just take a day off, the survey suggested.

But with economic data suggesting the UK economy is now more stable, the CIPD said it was surprised this was even happening.

"It's a real concern that the problem of presenteeism is persisting, as we might have expected it to drop during the economic recovery as people tend to feel more secure in their jobs," said Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the organisation.

"The problem may well be a hangover form the recession but we need to address the issue... head-on."

To be fair, the problem is worst in the public sector, where overall levels of absence have increased from 7.9 days per person last year to 8.7 days this year - but are still "noticeably lower than the figures the CIPD recorded before the recession".

Meanwhile, the average for the rest of the economy has risen from 6.6 days in 2014 to 6.9 days now.

Corinne Williams added that the onus is on businesses to ensure their workers feel they can take time off.

"It's key that organisations look at their culture, the behaviours they create and the impact this may have on stress levels," she said.

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