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Presenteeism hits record high

2 May 2018

Presenteeism hits record highMore people than ever are going to work when they are ill and also working while on annual leave.

Research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and Simply Health has found that "presenteeism", or people coming into work when they are ill, has more than tripled since 2010.

The latest Health and Well-being at Work survey has found that 86% of over 1,000 respondents said they had observed presenteeism in their organisation over the past 12 months. That compares to a level of 72% in 2016 and just 26% in 2010.

The survey also found that "leaveism", where employees use annual leave to work, is also a growing problem. More than two-thirds of respondents (69%) reported that leaveism has occurred in their organisation over the past year.

However, only a few organisations are taking steps to challenge these unhealthy workplace practices. Just a quarter of respondents that have experienced presenteeism (25%) say their organisation has taken steps to discourage it over the last year, down from 48% in 2016. And only 27% of those who have experienced leaveism say their organisation is taking action to tackle it.

Rachel Suff, CIPD senior employment relations adviser, said: "The survey shines a light on the shocking scale of presenteeism and leaveism we have in the UK, as people feel under even more pressure at work. Increasingly the threats to well-being in the modern workplace are psychological rather than physical, and yet too few organisations are discouraging unhealthy workplace practices and tackling stress, which is strongly linked to health conditions such as anxiety and depression."

The survey has found that a focus on employee well-being as a whole can reduce unhealthy workplace practices. However, nearly one in five respondents (18%) said their organisation isn't doing anything to improve employee health and well-being, compared with just 8% in 2016.

Suff said: "It's positive to see that employers who are taking action against unhealthy workplace practices are seeing the benefits of doing so, but we know that that employee well-being is still too low down the agenda for many other organisations."

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