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Brits prioritising work over their own health

Almost two thirds of British workers feel uncomfortable taking time off work when they’re ill, according to new research.

Employee services firm Personal Group and online doctor service videoDoc have unveiled the findings of a nationally representative survey of 2,496 UK employees on their attitudes and behaviours around work ‘presenteeism’ (working while sick) and illness in the workplace.

The results have unearthed some worrying trends with regards to the prioritisation of work over health, with the average British worker having worked more than four days whilst genuinely ill in the last year, and over half of UK employees (52 per cent) admitting to delaying seeking medical advice because they didn’t want to take time off work.

Of those who did take time off work to see a doctor in the last 12 months, 15.7 per centtook unpaid leave to do so, 17.5 per centused their annual leave entitlement and 22.4 per centleft work early or arrived late – each of which arguably negatively affect both employee wellbeing and organisational productivity.

Other highlights include:

  • The average British worker worked over four days when they were genuinely illand should have stayed at home last year
  • 3 per cent of surveyed UK employees reported having worked whilst genuinely illlast year
  • Over half of UK employees (52.0 per cent) had delayed seeking medical advicebecause they didn’t want to take time off work
  • Over a third (38.8 per cent) of UK employees have delayed seeking medical advice, only to discover that they needed treatment
  • Almost 80 per cent of surveyed women reported going to work ill, compared to over 70 per cent of men
  • Young people(those aged 16-24) were far more likely to go to work ill(86.8 per cent), take unpaid leave(25.1 per cent) or lie(14.8 per cent) to see a GP

Mark Scanlon, chief executive of Personal Group said: “This study shines a light on the pressures the modern work environment places on the health of British workers, highlighting that most UK employees actively delay seeking medical advice because of work.

“An overwhelming 85 per cent of workers believe that their employers have a responsibility to support the health and wellbeing of staff. We agree, not least because a workforce with easy access to medical advice will be healthier, happier and more productive. This is why we’re now offering our clients’ employees online GP consultations through our new OnDemand GP service, powered by leading online healthcare company, videoDoc and accessible through our Hapi app anytime and anywhere. Employees can see and speak to a GP in under ten minutes and even have any subsequent prescriptions sent to their local pharmacy for pick up.”

Dr Brian McManus, Medical Director at videoDoc added: “The results of this study suggest a worrying trend that employees are prioritising work over health. As demands on employee productivity increase, employees feel pressured to simply struggle on regardless. This pressure is only going to increase and so while we always recommend that people take the time to visit their GP in person, especially when they are concerned about their health, we see online doctor video consultations as an important means to circumvent time constraints in appropriate cases.”