Nine out of ten UK employees (92 per cent) have gone into work despite being sick this year and the top reason for presenteeism is the fear of not getting paid, according to new research[i] from insurer,

Other reasons cited include being scared to get into trouble (22 per cent), not wanting to fall behind on work (11 per cent), thinking they could just get through their illness (9 per cent) and having called in sick too many times (6 per cent).

In May, the CIPD reported[ii] that over 86 per cent of organisations had observed presenteeism in their organisation over the last 12 months, compared with 72 per cent in 2018 and just 26 per cent in 2010. They attribute this in part to a rise in work-related stress, anxiety and depression.

Adrian Lewis, Director, Activ Absence says,

“Rising presenteeism in UK offices is a growing issue. This new report highlights people are worried about not being paid and they don’t want to fall behind with their work, so they are coming into the office despite being ill.” “With the state of the UK economy uncertain with Brexit on the horizon, employees are scared to take sick days. But if they don’t get chance to recover from illnesses there will be bigger problems down the line.”

The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS)[iii] also show the number of working days lost due to absence illness has fallen to the lowest rate on record, with employees taking on average 4.1 days sick in 2017, compared to 7.2 days in 1993. Adrian Lewis says,

“The ONS figures suggest that far from becoming a healthier nation, UK employees are simply going into work sick. It is a big issue and employers need to understand the root causes of both presenteeism and absenteeism to offer the best support.”  “Having technology and processes in place to record and monitor absence will help companies understand what is actually happening amongst their workforce. With this data, back to work interviews that give people a chance to speak about any issues can be carried out which may enable companies to nip problems in the bud and provide better support.”

[i] [ii] [iii]





Rebecca joined the HRreview editorial team in January 2016. After graduating from the University of Sheffield Hallam in 2013 with a BA in English Literature, Rebecca has spent five years working in print and online journalism in Manchester and London. In the past she has been part of the editorial teams at Sleeper and Dezeen and has founded her own arts collective.