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Most workers still head to office when ill, UK study suggests

By Alan Jones, PA Industrial Correspondent

Most people have been to work while ill, continuing the trend towards "presenteeism" in offices, a new study suggests.

Workers are also increasingly monitoring emails in their spare time or before they leave home in the morning, research by insurance firm Canada Life indicates.

One in five of 1,000 adults surveyed said colleagues make them feel guilty if they take time off ill, while one in 10 said their work ethic has been questioned if they have called in sick.

One in four of those polled said their workload is too great to take time off, while many expressed fears they would lose their job.

Paul Avis of Canada Life Group Insurance said presenteeism has been a "persistent problem" in the workplace, adding: "The explosion of technology for work has let it grow into a far more pervasive issue and even started to invade our homes.

"Employees feel the need to work because of guilt, embarrassment and pride. An 'always on' culture means many end up checking emails or working extra hours on a regular basis, even when feeling ill.

"Presenteeism is counterproductive as it signifies employees do not believe illness is taken seriously in their organisation, which has a negative impact in the long run in terms of staff retention and productivity.

"Employers must communicate the support they can offer employees to ensure they take time off when they need it."

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