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Illness equals weakness attitude affecting workers

The social care sector is suffering from an "illness equals weakness" attitude when it comes to taking sick leave off work, research suggests.

The "quality of working life" report reveals that 18% of managers in the care sector believe their health is deteriorating but half say they would not be treated sympathetically at work if they were ill.

Two thirds of care sector workers did not take sick leave when they suffered from stomach bugs and only 17% of those suffering from stress took any time off work.

The report shows that not taking time off work is taking its toll in terms of productivity and levels of commitment and motivation.

Only 35% of workers said they were operating "at or near peak productivity" and another 67% claimed their productivity was reduced by ill health.

Jo Causon, director of marketing and corporate affairs at the Chartered Management Institute, said: "While many employers bemoan the cost of absence to their organisations, they fail to see the damage done by creating a culture where illness is seen as a weakness.

"The risk of mistakes or spreading sickness surely outweighs the short-term benefits of someone turning up for work when not fully fit."

Chartered Management Institute

Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)
"I was until the beginning of this month a professional lead for health visiting. I have lost my position under a reconfiguration. One of the reasons was the health visitors low scoring on the staff satisfaction services. I defended them and explained that over the last few years, partnership working has taken its toll. Senior management have never supported any initiatives within health visiting claiming that because safeguarding and school nursing were so far behind they had priority. This and the public lack of support for the staff have lead to low morale. Controversially improving working lives has led staff to consider that they are entitled to work when and how often they wish, meaning that full-time posts are now in the minority, increasing the time spent on training and annual leave. Lorenzo was implemented with no data in putters, this again has had a detrimental effect on time available for clients. Agenda for Change gave everyone extra annual leave but no backfill. In our area this has meant the total loss of the equivalent hours of a full time health visitor. Staff are off with work related stress and vacancies are being kept open for long periods. Staff are missing out on opportunities due to a poor online recruitment process. People complain that there are too many managers but the service needs to be managed in order to support staff." - Name and address supplied

"I am working under far more pressure now than I ever did in the last nine years due to job freezes, retention difficulties and the dreadful banding we got in Agenda for Change. At the Unite/CPHVA meetings we can't get any decent numbers or reps due to our workloads. The figures look fine on paper but the reality is very different with massive corporate caseloads, less HV's doing the work, more paperwork (e.g. common assessment frameworks) and more skill mix colleagues doing more parts of the holistic whole" - a stressed Health Visitor

"In the NHS I have ofen experienced a lack of care of one another. I have recently been off with stress (for the first time  time in my career) and my line manager talked to me about considering early retirement, and I had only been off three days then" - Name and address supplied