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      A third of workers have lied about their reason for calling in sick, over fears of stigma in the workplace, a study has found.

      Instead of telling the truth about health problems which mean they need the time off, employees would rather pretend they have a different complaint to their boss or work colleagues. And long-term health conditions are deemed the ‘least valid’ reasons for not attending work, despite their often-devastating symptoms.

      Only 15 per cent of people said that Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis – the two most common forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease – were acceptable reasons to call in sick. Other often invisible long-term conditions, such as depression, anxiety and fatigue scored even lower. Vomiting, flu and food poisoning were considered the most ‘legitimate’ reasons for taking a sick day.

      The stats emerged in an independent OnePoll study of 1,000 employed adults, commissioned by national charity Crohn’s & Colitis UK. It also found more than half of respondents who suffer a long-term health condition feel they have to downplay their condition at work.

      Juliet Chambers, communications manager at Crohn’s & Colitis UK says: “Living with any long-term condition is hard. Crohn’s and Colitis are a growing but hidden health crisis in UK workplaces – and people need better support and understanding to manage these conditions.

      “Right now, too many people feel forced to downplay the severity of their illness at work because of stigma. What’s worse, the stress and anxiety experienced by employees calling in sick will only increase the already devastating symptoms of their disease. We need to break down this taboo in the workplace and help employers and colleagues understand the true impact of these hidden diseases.”

      The research found 51 per cent of respondents feel their workplace does not provide a supportive environment for those dealing with long-term conditions.

      Just under one in five workers feel ‘frustrated’ towards colleagues who are frequently off sick, and six per cent feel ‘angry’ towards these colleagues.

      Crohn’s & Colitis UK is the national charity leading the battle against Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis and fighting to achieve a better quality of life for the 300,000 people in the UK with these and other forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Their annual WALK IT events raise funds and vital awareness of Crohn’s and Colitis.

      For more information and support visit Crohn’s & Colitis UK – crohnsandcolitis.org.uk or phone their information line 0300 222 5700.

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      Jade Burke

      Jade Burke, Editor for PA Life

      All stories by: Jade Burke