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26/10/2007 - 'Work while you're ill' culture is wrong say bosses


Pressure to struggle into work when sick is harming workers and damaging productivity,  and motivation, according to research from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI). Its 'Quality of Working Life' report reveals that 17 per cent of managers believe their health is deteriorating and more than four in 10 (42 per cent) claim illness rates in their organisation have gone up over the last 12 months.
The study of 1,511 managers also found, however, that 1 in 3 believe a culture of not taking time off work for sickness exists. Only 53 per cent of employees feel they would be treated sympathetically if they were ill. The report reveals half (48 per cent) of those reporting symptoms relating to stomach bugs in the past year did not take sick leave and only 9 per cent suffering from stress took time off from work, despite 1 in 3 citing stress symptoms. Two-thirds of respondents (67 per cent) said their productivity was reduced by ill health.
The study is interesting as so much emphasis is placed by some employers and media on the cost to firms of sickness absence. The damage caused by this culture where illness is bemoaned as a weakness is often over-looked. Spreading sickness and making costly mistakes when ill at work are often not taken into account.  Solidarity General Secretary, Pat Harrington, commented:- "This report goes some way to redressing the balance on the sickness at work issue".