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A system that makes us sick

Workers are working more hours and are experiencing high stress levels, this has predictably led to them taking more sick days
Issue 2874

Workers are taking more sick days

Bosses are stoking lies as they moan about workers taking too many days off ill. A survey this week said the number of sick days has reached a ten-year high.

The research—from a healthcare firm and a professional body—calculated that workers are taking 7.8 sick days a year on average. It’s a small increase from the 5.8 days before the pandemic. 

It’s hardly a surprise if workers are away from work more. Soaring NHS waiting lists mean people wait months or even years for treatment.

The long-term impact of Covid on health has not gone away. And in many workplaces bosses are ratcheting up pressure as they try to extract more work from fewer people.

But in any case the real issue is not workers failing to turn up. It’s that they drag themselves into work too often and stay there long after their paid hours have ended.

Another recent survey found that 76 percent of workers forced themselves to work while sick. This figure rose to 79 percent for women. And British workers gave their employers £26 billion of free labour last year.

Some 3.5 million people did unpaid overtime in 2022, putting in an average of 7.4 unpaid hours a week.  For those workers, that’s equivalent on average to £7,200 a year of wages going unpaid.

That’s the real scandal that needs addressing.

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