Brits admit to working from home on days they have called in sick

Millions of workers have called in sick – only to find themselves replying to work emails and taking phone calls from their sick beds, a study has found.

While many are frequently too unwell to make it in, the sheer weight of work waiting for them and pressure from their boss means most carry on working at home rather than recuperating.

Four in 10 have taken a day off work after falling ill, but have ended up replying to emails, talking to colleagues and even taking work-related phone calls.

One in four even said their boss expects them to still work through a sick day, while more than a third admitted their manager has asked them to pick things up despite being ill.

It also emerged almost one in five have called in sick because of the common cold, one in 10 have stayed home with a headache and seven per cent miss work due to a sore throat.

But just 19 per cent think a cold is an acceptable reason for calling in sick, with only 14 per cent believing a sore throat warrants a day off.

A spokesman for ColdZyme, which commissioned the research said: “As a nation, we are busy and under more pressure than ever in our working lives.

“But this means it is getting more and more difficult to take a sick day and really get the rest you need to get better.

“Instead of forgetting about work and taking to their bed, many are spending the day checking emails, talking with colleagues and even dealing with phone calls.

“While this might make things easier when you are well enough to return to the office, it could result in a longer recovery time.”

The average Brit has called in sick twice in the past year, but has at least another four occasions where they wanted to stay home but felt they couldn’t.

Four in 10 battled on into work as they had too much to do to stay in bed while another three in 10 worried they weren’t really ill enough to take the day off.

More than a quarter would have felt guilty staying home and 22 per cent say calling in sick is frowned upon in their workplace.

Others refused to take a sick day as they had a deadline to meet, couldn’t afford to take the unpaid day off or worried what their boss would think.

One in 10 even went in to work because of fears about the workload they would return to.

But even those who do call in sick end up working with the average employee receiving or making three phone calls and dealing with nine emails from their sick bed.

They will also have four conversations with a colleague back in the office, spending an hour and 26 minutes dealing with work in total across the day.

Four in 10 carry on working because they simply had too much work to do to leave it for the day, while 28 per cent do so if they have an important deadline to meet.

Workers also battle on through their illness because they have urgent work, they feel bad leaving it with their colleagues or because they couldn’t bear the thought of returning to a huge workload.

The study, of 2,000 workers via OnePoll.com, also found 57 per cent of people reckon those who have a cold or bug should stay home, regardless of how busy they are, to avoid passing it onto their colleagues.

Four in 10 have been made unwell as a result of someone else going into the office while they were ill, with one in five admitting they have passed on a bug themselves as they didn’t stay home.

A spokesman for ColdZyme added: “With cold and flu season rife and spreading around offices and friends, it is important to take the necessary steps to prevent a cold bug.

“By using ColdZyme, it is possible to help prevent a cold before the virus is able to take hold, as the over the counter mouth spray forms an active enzyme protective barrier in the throat, increasing your protection against the virus.

“From 2014-2016, over 300 ColdZyme users were asked what they believed the early symptoms of a cold were.

“Across three different market research groups the results were the same; malaise and a sore, irritated throat and that identifying and treating these early on is the most effective way of stopping a cold in its tracks.”

Top 10 reasons for still working when they were supposed to be off sick:
1. I had too much work to do
2. There was a deadline I needed to meet
3. I wouldn’t have been able to ‘switch off’
4. There was an urgent project/piece of work which needed doing
5. I couldn’t have ignored emails for a whole day
6. I have felt bad leaving it with my colleagues
7. I couldn’t bear the thought of coming back to a huge workload on my return
8. A piece of work needed approval and only I was able to do so
9. My manager/boss expected me to
10. I was too ill to be in work, but well enough to work
  • Mat is a writer with an interest in public opinion research. He has a passion for stories covering lifestyle, travel and technology.

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