A new survey shows that people are too scared to call in sick

Where's that Lemsip gone?

calling in sick
(Image credit: Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock)

Where's that Lemsip gone?

Everybody knows somebody who’s faked a sick day, but it turns out it’s less common than you might think. According to a new survey, 7 in 10 Brits will choose to fight through their cold and work it off rather than recuperate at home.

Over 2000 employees working in the private sector were interviewed by Aviva Working Lives about their sick day habits and it was pretty depressing stuff. Almost half of people (41%) said they refuse to call in sick primarily because ‘their work will pile up’ and more than two in five said that they believed their company prioritised results over their personal health and wellbeing.

Only 23% of people said that they had actually called in sick when they weren’t, preferring to get extra unofficial days of annual leave in. In fact, it turns out that the average British worker only requested roughly 4 days off a year in 2016, whereas 24 years ago in 1993 people were more likely to request 7 instead.

calling in sick

(Image credit: Snap Stills/REX/Shutterstock)

It wasn’t just employees who were surveyed, employers were also asked their honest opinion about the state of affairs and they weren’t any more optimistic either. Just 13% said that there had been a concerted effort to ensure that employees’ health and wellbeing were considered, whereas just 12% said that there had been improvements to their work environments along those avenues.

Dr Doug Wright, Aviva UK Health’s medical director, said, ‘Businesses need to ensure they create a working culture whereby people do not feel [pressured] into coming to work when they are unwell, safe in the knowledge their absence can be effectively managed.’

He also criticised the current culture of working Britons, continuing, ‘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.’

‘Businesses should ensure they take the lead on communicating proactively to employees that it’s important to take a step back when unwell and it can be in everyone’s interest...Investment in health and wellbeing is no longer a nice [thing] to have; it must be looked on as a priority.

Megan C. Hills

Megan is a freelance journalist who covers entertainment and all things lifestyle, with a particular passion for fashion, beauty, travel and Keanu Reeves stories. She has previously worked on staff for titles including Marie Claire UK, CNN Style and The Evening Standard and has written for titles such as Bustle UK, Wallpaper*, Forbes and Hong Kong Tatler. She splits her time between London and her hometown Hong Kong, where she currently lives with the love of her life - an elderly dog named Poppy - and her husband.