sick leave

Sick leave guilt

Feeling under the weather but still stuck at your desk? You’re not alone as figures have suggested that many of us drag ourselves into the office when we are genuinely unwell rather than take sick leave due to pressure from our boss or because we feel guilty about letting the rest of the team down.

And with the cold weather fast approaching, we’re far more likely to fall victim to a bout of flu or a runny nose.

However, many employees feel obliged to continue to work even though they are unwell as they feel guilty about taking sick leave. Studies have shown that over 65% of staff go into work with a range of illnesses which isn’t just unproductive, but also threatens the health of their colleagues.

As well as feeling bad about letting the side down, many employees stated that almost 35% of their managers put pressure on them to turn in even though they aren’t up to the job and a further 44% said that they are often questioned about the reason for their absence upon their return.

Staff wellbeing and productivity are vital to the success of any business, and over 80% of employers believe that having staff in the office that are under the weather is detrimental. However, the pressure is still felt by employees when taking sick leave.

In the event that you really aren’t up to going into work for health reasons, it’s imperative that you follow your companies sick leave and absence policy to the letter to avoid problems upon your return.

As soon as you start to feel unwell, inform your line manager and discuss alternative options for work. Perhaps the afternoon or a day in bed could remedy the situation, or even the possibility of working from home until you feel 100% are suitable alternatives.

If a trip to the doctors is in order, your employer has a legal obligation to allow you to attend. Any period of absence your GP recommends should be followed up by a letter which you can show to your employer in the event that you need to take sick leave.

In terms of pay, this varies from employer to employer so check your contract of employment for further details. Many provide full pay for absences due to ill health for certain periods of time, whereas others may only offer the standard Statutory Sick Pay rate. Make sure you are aware what you are entitled to pay-wise when it comes to sick leave to avoid any unexpected surprises on pay day.

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Emma Bonfiglio

About the author, Emma Bonfiglio

Managing Director at Appointments, Emma has spent 15 years building up a stellar reputation for commercial recruitment excellence across a variety of industries and sectors. There’s no staffing challenge Emma hasn’t encountered and her insight into the recruitment landscape has assisted countless clients achieve their goals over the years.


Specialising in the legislative and procedural side of business operations and through her extensive knowledge and continual training, Emma has a wealth of legal and contractual recruitment knowledge to help advise and support organisations of any size and in any industry.