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More than 9 out of 10 workers admit to presenteeism

The problem of 'presenteeism' seems to be reaching new heights, with more than nine out of ten employees dragging themselves into work despite being ill, according to a survey by Canada Life.

Most workers (76 per cent) said the reason they did so was because they didn't think their illness was 'serious enough' to warrant time away. Around a third forced themselves to their desks because of workload, and a fifth said it was because colleagues would make them feel guilty for being off work.

But a significant number also said they came to work ill because they couldn't afford to take time off (20 per cent), or because of the threat of redundancy (13 per cent).

More than a third said they would prefer to use annual leave if they had to rather than take sick leave, because of the perceived blot it would put on their employment record. Commentators said that this helped to explain why the average number of sick days taken has fallen by a quarter, from 5.6 days in 2007 to 4.1 in 2012, according to official figures.

Flu wouldn't be enough to keep a third of workers from the office, while around one in seven said they'd struggle in even if suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea.

With around eight out of ten workers saying they caught illnesses from colleagues, and the same number reporting their performance dipped when they were unwell, the implications for workplace productivity are clear.

Acas can help your organisation combat presenteeism in two key ways. Firstly Acas offers detailed advice on Health, work and wellbeing, and how to have a positive impact on your employees' health and wellbeing. Secondly, Acas runs practical training courses on issues surrounding Absence.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects page for more information.

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