A recent UK study has revealed that as many as 9 in 10 Britons have gone into work when they’re unwell, with more than half of these admitting they did so as they were scared they would not be paid. What’s more, it was found that of those that went into work sick, three quarters (76 per cent) revealed that colleagues were sick soon after them. 

Although it’s important to rest when sick, the vast majority still head into work when they are under the weather; due to a fear they would not be paid or would get into trouble. The study also found that of those who go into work ill, four fifths (82 per cent) admit to being unproductive when they do.

The team at Holloway conducted the research in a bid to find out more about Britons’ work habits when they are sick. A total of 2,320 adults, aged 18 and over from the UK, were quizzed as part of the study. All respondents revealed that they had a full-time job, which they’d worked in for at least 2 years, prior to the poll.

Initially participants were asked, “Have you ever gone into work sick?”, to which 9 in 10 respondents (92 per cent) stated they had. When these respondents were asked why it was they had done this, the following five answers emerged as the most common:

  1. I was worried I would not be paid – 51 per cent
  2. I was scared I’d get into trouble – 22 per cent
  3. I didn’t want to fall behind with my workload – 11 per cent
  4. I thought I could power through my illness – 9 per cent
  5. I had already called in sick too many times – 6 per cent


Of those who said they had gone into work sick, three quarters (76 per cent) admitted to researchers that colleagues of theirs had been ill soon after; potentially because of them passing their illness on.

Relevant respondents were next asked if they were productive when they did go into work feeling under the weather, to which 82 per cent admitted they were not, with a quarter (26 per cent) revealing that they were actually sent home.

Finally all participants were asked if they understood what their employer’s sick policy was, to which just 1 in 5 (22 per cent) said that they did, with the remaining 78 per cent stating they weren’t sure.

Louise Baker, Head of HR, at www.Holloway.co.uk said:

“It’s worrying to hear just how many Britons are forcing themselves into work when they are clearly not well enough to be there. It’s important that more people fully understand their company’s sick policy and if they do feel like they aren’t guaranteed pay when ill, income protection is definitely something worth looking into. Besides the fact that going into work when sick could make you feel worse, prolong your absence from work, and you also risk making your co-workers unwell; something which clearly does happen according to our findings.”





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.