Employees Worry They’ll Lose Money When Calling in Sick

  • Brits, particularly women, worry about the financial impact of taking a  sick day

  • Brits also worry their employer won’t believe them if they call in sick

  • Fewer than a fifth of employees feel supported by their colleagues when they’re ill

As the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite, more than one in five (23%) Brits have felt in the past, or would feel, worried about their finances if they were too ill to go to work and had to call in sick, according to findings from MetLife UK, with women particularly impacted by financial worries. 

Financial concerns weigh heavily of the minds of women, with more than a quarter (28%) stating they would be anxious about losing out financially if they were to take a sick day, compared to less than a fifth (18%) of men. 

Women were also significantly more likely to worry about their colleagues in their absence. More than two in five (41%) women said they had guilt for seemingly leaving their colleagues in the lurch over an unforeseen absence, while less than a quarter (23%) of men felt the same way. 

In addition, MetLife’s findings showed UK adults fret over additional stresses surrounding taking a sick day. A fifth (21%) said they would be worried their boss or other colleagues would not believe they are actually poorly if they took a day off, and almost the same number (20%) said they worry about the amount of work they will have to come back to.

However, not all employees feel plagued with worry if they need to take a day off. One in six (17%) workers believe they would be supported by their colleagues, and the same number (17%) feel they could take the time they needed to recover fully. 

Adrian Matthews, Head of Employee Benefits at MetLife, comments: “Employees should always feel that they can take time off sick when they’re not feeling their best. However, it is a delicate balance. Mental health issues have come to the forefront since the start of the pandemic and often these aren’t always visible. Whilst the individual may prefer to be at home, being in the office can be more beneficial to them.  Often, with a supportive employer and line manager, they can be more closely observed and supported from the office. Burn out too is a gradual impact, so it’s important employers have an open and trusting culture to allow staff time off when it is needed to minimise a longer-term pattern and challenge occurring.”

“In addition to sick days, many employers will also offer 24/7 access to employee assistance programmes which are intended to help employees with personal problems which can impact their work, health and wellbeing. This can range from counselling aswell as financial wellbeing support aswell as programmes to improve an employee’s health. Increased pressure on our finances at the moment can lead to feelings of stress and anxiety that can build if employees don’t know where to turn for help. Communicating these benefits, which can provide a vital lifeline and impartial view, will ensure that staff always have a place to turn to for confidential advice.”

“Having just lived through the pandemic, health, sickness, and the transmission of illness has never been more widely discussed. Employers should work hard to ensure their employees feel supported when they’re ill so they feel they can take the time off they need to feel better and are not creating an environment which relies on presenteeism and employees having to hide how they’re really feeling.”

Research was conducted by Opinium commissioned by MetLife UK between February 1st and February 3rd 2022. The sample was made up of 1,428 UK part-time and full time workers.  

* UK workforce 24,391,000 (as of Nov 21 https://www.statista.com/statistics/1119783/full-time-workers-in-the-uk/)