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Fear of redundancy sees Brits work through illness in lockdown

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

More than a million Brits continue to work despite being ill during the lockdown, due to fear of redundancy.

A third of people (35%) have continued to work while feeling unwell during the coronavirus lockdown, with a greater proportion of younger workers feeling the pressure.

A poll of UK employees and employers revealed that 41% of 26-34-year-olds have continued working while ill, while 33% of 18-25-year-olds have done so.

This compares to 20% for those aged over-55.

Of those who work while under the weather, 16% said this is driven by fear of redundancy. Other reasons include not feeling bad enough to warrant a day off (40%), a big workload (26%) and 22% were worried about the financial implications.

However, Canada Life’s poll also revealed that 21% have ‘pulled a sickie’ during lockdown, with more than twice as many men (26%) doing this compared to women (12%).

But for nearly half of people (46%), they said they feel more pressure ‘to be present’ for work during the lockdown.

A quarter said they feel the need to prove they’re working every day, with 22% checking in with colleagues or managers more often.

For one in five, they’re checking emails more often and outside of working hours, while a similar number are working longer hours. One in 10 take no breaks during the working day while 15% said they are taking fewer breaks.

A quarter of people are also juggling their working hours around childcare, leading to 22% saying they find working from home more stressful than being in the office.

‘Lockdown making employees feel they can’t switch off’

Paul Avis, Canada Life group insurance marketing director, said: “The ‘always on’ work culture we’ve adopted over the last decade has come to a head; lockdown is making it worse and employees feel like they can’t switch off. As the physical and mental wellbeing of UK employees is stretched to the limit, productivity could be significantly hit. But with so many people frightened they might lose their jobs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s no surprise they’re working through sickness and worried about the implications of taking time off.

“Employers have an active role to play in encouraging their staff to take the time they need to recover from illness, mental or physical, and it’s encouraging that 41% have introduced measures to support struggling workers.”