Employees could be putting their health at risk by continuing to work when they are sick, according to an immunologist and medical herbalist.

Dr Serene Foster said many workers refuse to take time off when they are ill because they are worried about the derision it will attract in the workplace.

"We have a culture where we point fingers at people who don’t turn up at work," she explained, speaking on behalf of Sambucol.

According to the research by Sambucol, the average employee spends at least four days a year working when they should be at home recovering from illness.

A recent a survey of human resources professionals conducted by HAS also revealed that employers are putting pressure on staff to work when they are sick.

Three-quarters of respondents said employees within their organisation often work through illness rather than take time off.

With the cold and flu season approaching, employers should encourage their staff to maintain a healthy immune system to ward off illness, Dr Foster said.