Workers fear consequences of being off sick

Monday 2 June 2008

Workers fear consequences of being off sick

  • Over 50s are least tolerant of 'sickies'

A study by Saga Private Medical Insurance* has revealed that almost half (43%) of workers are embarrassed or worried about the negative effect on their career or feel paranoid when they return to work after a period of illness. Despite these fears, 29% of all workers have been off ill for more than five consecutive days in the last two years and over a third (38%) admit to having pulled a 'sickie.'

Over a quarter (29%) of workers have suffered a genuine medical condition that has caused them to be off work for over a week. However, on returning to work, a quarter (25%) are worried that the time off sick will reduce their promotional chances or be seen as an excuse to dismiss them or encourage early retirement. A further 15% were too embarrassed to talk to colleagues about their illness.

Over a third of workers in total (36%) have pulled a sickie however workers aged over 50 are less likely to take a day off pretending they are ill compared to less than a quarter (23%) of over 50s having pulled a sickie. Older workers are also more against the practice with over half of people aged over 50 (53%) thinking sickies are dishonest and a bad thing. In comparison, only 34% of younger workers have strong feelings about sickies. Almost half (46%) of under 50s believe that everyone takes them once in a while and that they do no harm. Junior staff should also watch out as colleagues are twice as suspicious that co-workers less senior than them are not really ill when they take time off, as they are of workers more senior to them.

Those aged under 50 are 80% more likely to be concerned than older colleagues that they will be denied future career opportunities after being ill. Just under half of under 50s (48%) did not feel that the time off would affect them professionally compared to 64% of over 50s; suggesting that the fact that older workers would not 'pull a sickie' as readily as their younger counterparts means that they do not feel as 'sensitive' to the possibility of not being trusted.

The research clearly showed that the over 50s were less likely to cry wolf where sickness was concerned. Saga's experience over the years with PMI customers has shown that the priority for over 50s is to return to health, and often work, as quickly as possible and it is therefore no surprise that they are less tolerant of the practice of 'pulling a sickie.'


Notes to Editors-

*Analysis carried out by Opinium Research on an online poll of 2,032 British adults between 6th and 10th April 2008.

For further press information please contact the Saga Press Office on: 01303 771529.

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