Majority of UK Employees Avoid Taking Sick Leave When Needed

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

A recent survey conducted by Metlife UK, a prominent provider of protection and employee benefits, has unveiled a concerning trend among UK employees. Despite experiencing illness or injury, a staggering 59% of respondents admitted to not taking time off work when they truly needed to.

The survey, which polled 2,009 employees, shed light on various reasons behind this reluctance to call in sick. Among the top reasons cited were concerns about leaving work uncovered (36%), fear of missing out on work (28%), and pressure to meet deadlines (16%).

Furthermore, a significant portion of respondents expressed worry about financial repercussions, with 26% fearing they wouldn't be paid if they took sick leave and 17% anxious about losing out on sick pay. The survey also highlighted emotional factors, such as guilt about burdening colleagues (26%), concern over disbelief in their illness (19%), and apprehension about how bosses or colleagues would react (18%).

Adrian Matthews, head of employee benefits at Metlife UK, emphasized the detrimental impact of presenteeism on both individual well-being and overall workforce productivity. He noted, "Employees who prioritize presenteeism in the office, more often than not, find it leads to absenteeism in the long run."

Matthews underscored the importance of employers facilitating a supportive environment where employees feel empowered to prioritize their health. He advocated for initiatives such as access to 24/7 GPs, early intervention programs, and employee assistance programs to ensure employees feel valued and protected.

As the findings highlight the prevalence of presenteeism and its potential consequences, employers are urged to reevaluate their policies and support mechanisms to foster a healthier and more productive workplace culture.


Have something noteworthy to contribute? Whether it's agency news, an upcoming event, a useful business link, or a thought-provoking blog post, we welcome your input. Simply reach out to, and our dedicated team will ensure your content reaches the right audience on our platform.