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Negative attitudes towards sickness affecting workers

More than half (51%) of UK workers claim their workplaces are affected by a culture of negative judgment around sickness absence, research has revealed.

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A study of 1,123 workers by Willis Towers Watson also found 54% of workers believe they are put under pressure to return to work before they have fully recovered from illness or injury. This could contribute to greater levels of presenteeism – turning up for work when unwell – which is thought to affect productivity, morale, and recovery from illness.


Fear of a negative impact on job prospects is the biggest reason workers feel under pressure to return, cited by 50% of respondents, followed by worries about letting colleagues down (46%), and worries over workload and deadlines (35%).


Less than half (47%) of UK workers believe their employers provide adequate specialist support, care and advice to help them return to work following a period of long-term absence.


Of those workers who have taken more than four weeks of continuous absence at any point within the last five years – who made up 19% of all respondents – a third (33%) claim they did not receive regular communication or support from their employers while off work.

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