Danny McCance 2 May 2018 12:01pm

More people are working through illness

The number of people seen coming in to work when ill, known as presenteeism, has more than tripled since 2010

Reports of presenteeism observed in the workplace in the last 12 months has increased 14% to 86% – up from 26% in 2010, according to a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and Simplyhealth survey.

The number of sick days taken increased from 6.3 days per employee in 2016 to 6.6 days in 2018, although the report noted that “longer-term trends suggest that absence levels in non-profit organisations are falling”.

Despite rising reports of presenteeism, the number of respondents who say their organisation has taken steps in dealing with the issue has almost halved since 2016 – from 48% to 25%.

Leavism –people using their annual leave allotment to work – was also reported by 69% of respondents, who said that this had occurred in their workplace in the last year.

Rachel Suff, senior employment relations advisor at CIPD, said that “increasingly threats to wellbeing in the workplace are psychological rather than physical,” but that organisations are still doing little to help this.

She said that stress-related sickness is strongly related to conditions such as anxiety and depression.

The report found that 37% of respondents had reported that absence due to stress had increased in their organisation in the last year, compared to 8% who said that it had decreased.

In January, research from CV-Library found 30.4% of accountants suffer from mental health issues, with 43.5% of respondents believing work was a contributor to their poor mental health.

“In order to encourage a healthy workplace, organisations need to look beyond sickness absence rates alone and develop a solid, evidence-based understanding of the underlying causes of work-related stress and unhealthy behaviour like presenteeism,” Suff said.

In December last year, research found that women suffered more from stress at work than their male counterparts, with 57% reporting their workload had caused physical illness, compared to 46% of men.