A recent survey has revealed that hay fever is impacting nearly half of the UK workforce, with 45 percent of respondents indicating they suffer from the condition. Among these, almost one in five report that their symptoms have worsened in recent years.

Despite the widespread prevalence of hay fever, only 27 percent of respondents believe that employees should be allowed to take time off work due to severe symptoms.

A significant majority, 73 percent, feel that taking sick leave for hay fever is not acceptable.

Interestingly, attitudes shift when it comes to remote work. Over 70 percent of respondents think it’s reasonable for employees to work from home if they are suffering from hay fever symptoms.

However, 28 percent oppose this idea, with over half of these detractors being aged 45 and over. This suggests a generational divide, where Gen X and Boomers might see hay fever as less disruptive, while Gen Z and Millennials are more open to flexible work arrangements.

Are symptoms better managed at home?

Nearly two in five hay fever sufferers believe they can manage their symptoms better at home. This preference for remote work is contrasted by the fact that more than half of respondents feel that working conditions should be improved to support hay fever sufferers. Common suggestions include better air conditioning and ventilation, access to medications, and increased cleaning during summer months.

Over half of those surveyed have already begun experiencing symptoms this year, and with hay fever season lasting from late March to September, many face a prolonged period of discomfort. The NHS notes that hay fever is a common allergy causing sneezing, coughing, and itchy eyes, typically worsening during warm, humid, and windy conditions.

Dr. Gareth Nye, an expert in endocrinology and medical science, emphasised the importance of treating hay fever compassionately. He highlighted that climate change has exacerbated the condition by extending the pollen season. Dr. Nye also provided practical tips for employers, such as ensuring proper ventilation, reducing indoor pollen sources, and allowing flexible work arrangements during peak pollen times.

As hay fever remains a prevalent issue, it is clear that both employees and employers must find ways to manage its impact effectively. The survey underscores the need for greater awareness and supportive measures in the workplace to help those affected by this common but often underestimated allergy.

 

 

 

 

Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.