A large number of employers are putting pressure on sick staff to continue working while they are ill, according to new research

In a survey of human resources professionals conducted by HSA, 35 per cent said their company expects staff to carry out basic tasks such as picking up and responding to emails while they are off work sick.

Furthermore, 75 per cent said employees within their organisation sometimes work through their illness rather than take time off.

Richard Halley, head of sales at HSA, said: "Companies are under pressure to get the best out of employees, especially during these tough economic times. However, this should not be done at the expense of employee health and welfare."

A separate survey by AXA PPP healthcare revealed that almost three quarters of British employees have gone to work sick when they could have legitimately stayed at home.

Respondents cited reasons such as not wanting to let down their colleagues and being concerned about the impact it would have on their sickness record.