Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Most British workers have stopped taking sick days, survey finds

sick woman (2).jpg

Are you of the mentality that wild horses couldn’t keep you away from the office? You are not alone.

According to the results of a new study, us Brits are so wedded to our jobs that we wouldn’t let a little thing like being sick stand in the way of getting to work.

In fact, a massive 70% of us would still choose to go to work rather than call in sick when we’re feeling unwell.

The report, released today by insurance company Aviva, found that seven out of 10 employees working in private firms – which equates to a not-insignificant 18 million of us –have headed into work despite being unwell.

Sick days: to take or not to take?

Sick days: to take or not to take?

So why are we all dragging ourselves into work when we’re under the weather?

The survey found that two in five employees believed their employer considered the performance of the company as more important than their health and wellbeing, which could lead them to feel pressurised to make into work.

Adding to this, over 40% of employees admitted they were worried about their work piling up if they called in sick.

Read more: How daydreaming in the office could boost your career

Unsurprisingly, however, making a beeline for your desk when you feel unwell is probably not the wisest move.

Describing it as a “false economy”, Dr Doug Wright, medical director at Aviva UK Health, told The Independent, “Businesses need to ensure they create a working culture whereby people do not feel pressurised into coming to work when they are unwell, safe in the knowledge their absence can be effectively managed.”

Not convinced?

"Presenteeism, driven in part by an increased 'always-on' culture, poses a genuine threat to overall business performance through the adverse impact on productivity and morale in the workplace," Wright added.

Does this fill you with dread?

Does this fill you with dread?

The results of the study, which surveyed some 2,000 people, help to explain the overall drop in sick days taken in the UK.

Last year, UK workers took an average of 4.3 days off work due to illness, the lowest number since records began.

And back in the heady days of 1993, we took almost twice as many sick days a year, with the average number coming in at 7.2 days per employee, according to the Office for National Statistics.

If you need any convincing to call in sick next time you’re feeling ill, have a read of Lucy Mangan’s column about sick days being the new “mini break”, or take heed of Lena Dunham’s wise words and repeat after me: “We can only pull off a high wire act for so long before gravity does its job.”

Images: iStock


office daydreaming benefits 1.jpg

How daydreaming in the office could boost your career

skills delete cv.jpg

These are the 25 CV skills that could be losing you money

age worst work life unhappy.jpg

People aged 25-34 are the most unhappy with their work-life balance


Why it’s totally fine if you don’t have a ‘work wife’

Having friends at work is nice – but it’s not the be all and end all

by Moya Crockett
18 Aug 2017

Sex toy reviewer is a job and it pays £28,000 (with unlimited holiday)

Get paid to do something you really love: you

by Kayleigh Dray
16 Aug 2017

Why the quietest colleague in the office may have the last laugh

How to deal with feeling drowned out

by Amy Swales
14 Aug 2017

These are the 5 worst questions you can ask in a job interview

Don’t blow it.

by Moya Crockett
14 Aug 2017

Why using smiley faces in work emails could damage your reputation

Think a ':)' makes you seem friendlier? You’re wrong.

by Moya Crockett
14 Aug 2017

These are the 20 best companies for work-life balance in the UK

Feeling burnt out? Consider sending your CV here

by Moya Crockett
10 Aug 2017

Why this Google employee was fired for his report on women in tech

James Damore’s controversial memo has reignited the debate about diversity in tech

by Moya Crockett
08 Aug 2017

How to successfully launch a business in your spare time

By four women who made it work

by Sarah Biddlecombe
04 Aug 2017

Why you really need to start taking lunch breaks at work

A culture of presenteeism means we're glued to our desks and rarely go outside

by Anna Brech
27 Jul 2017

The one thing you should never include on your LinkedIn profile

Employers are less likely to hire someone who does this...

by Megan Murray
27 Jul 2017