Half of workers would still go into work if they had the flu – your rights to calling in sick explained

Despite the high chance of spreading the flu virus to colleagues, over half of us would still go into work

A new survey of 1,000 employees by insurance group Canada Life has revealed that one in four workers would have to be in hospital before they took a day off sick, revealing a “worrying” attitude to taking time off.

Nine out of 10 had gone to work while feeling ill, unchanged from similar research a year ago.

The report said employers’ efforts to improve employee wellbeing was failing to reduce a culture of “presenteeism”.

Many who said they would still go in blamed large workloads or financial concerns.

Paul Avis, marketing director at Canada Life Group Insurance, said: “It is incredibly worrying it would take something as serious as being hospitalised to dissuade a quarter of British employees from going into work, showing that a ‘stiff upper lip’ culture of presenteeism still pervades the British workforce.

“People suffering from illnesses like flu and stomach bugs are unlikely to be productive and risk making their colleagues unwell as well by struggling into work.

“We need to be clearer with employees – they should only come in to work when fully fit and able to do so, be it physically or mentally.”

Unfortunately while your holiday rights are strongly protected , sick pay is much more at the companies discretion.

Many workers don’t receive automatic sick days from their employer for months after joining a company, while others are entirely forced to rely on state sick pay.

Workers are, however, all legally entitled to statutory sick pay for up to 28 weeks – this is currently £89.35 per week.  This pay doesn’t start until the fourth day you’re off sick, so you might not get paid anything for the first three days – but once you qualify it’s paid by your employer in the same way that you normally get paid.

You don’t have to be a full time employee to get statutory sick pay. You can also get it if you’re on a fixed term contract, work part-time, work through an agency or on a zero-hours contract.

You qualify if:

  • You normally earn more than £113 a week.
  • You’re sick for more than four days in a row, including non-working days. You’ll get sick pay from the fourth working day of your illness, unless you’ve been off sick in the last eight weeks – then you’ll get paid from the first working day.
  • You follow your employer’s’ rules about reporting sickness absence. Most employers ask you to provide a sick note if you’re off sick for more than seven days for example. If there aren’t any rules, make sure you call in sick as soon as you need to take time off work, and ask if there’s anything else you need to do to record your sickness.

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