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None of us are taking sick days anymore, even when we’re properly ill

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Gary Ogden
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I never take sick days unless I’m fully confined to bed – I can’t take the guilt, the stress and the threat of double the workload the next day. It seems that this is a feeling I share with the rest of the country, because according to a report by insurance big dogs Aviva, seven out of 10 employees in private firms – that’s about 18 million across the country – regularly come in when they’re feeling rubbish.

The reason for this is that more than two in five workers feel like their employers put more stake in performance than the actual health of its workforce. It’s also down to the fear of work piling up – take a day off and return to an insurmountable mound of TPS reports. More than 40% of those surveyed agreed.

The medical director at Aviva UK Health, Dr Doug Wright says: “Businesses need to ensure they create a working culture whereby people do not feel pressurised into coming to work when they are unwell, safe in the knowledge their absence can be effectively managed.

"Presenteeism, driven in part by an increased 'always-on' culture, poses a genuine threat to overall business performance through the adverse impact on productivity and morale in the workplace.”

This “threat” basically means that if an ill person comes into work, sickness spraying out of their ears, coughing up a thousand loogies all over their keyboard, tongue swelling to the size of a small cow and bursting into everyone’s mouths – it basically means they run the risk of infecting everyone else. I’ve seen 28 Days Later – I know how quickly these things spread.

Your FOMO has caused the entire city to become an apocalyptic nest of rabid zombies climbing up the walls and eating people’s brains – and it’s only lunchtime. Think of all the extra work you’re going to have to do now.

Also, think how much you actually get done do when you’re ill – it’s not worth coming in, is it? This skewed view of productivity isn’t helping anyone.

Last year, the annual number of sick days taken in Britain was down to its lowest level since records began, about 25 years ago. According to the Office for National Statistics, in 1993, workers took an average of 7.2 sick days, but last year it was just 4.3.

Look, if you’re ill, don’t come in. I don’t want to be slipping on your bogeys. Stay at home, please.

Of course, I’m not encouraging fake sick days – so hangovers don’t count – you shouldn’t be lying to your employer. That’s why when I do a ditch day I tell my boss I can’t come in cos I’m “too ill”. Then, if they spot me out in the pub on the same day, I can just tell them I meant “ill” in the cool, hip-hop sense. I’m too fucking cool, so I need a day off now and again. I never lied.

(Image: iStock)

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Gary Ogden

Shortlist writer and "the least woke person in the office", Gary Ogden, likes horror movies, Cheestrings, tapping his leg under the desk, "having a drink", PDAs, not having eczema anymore, hiding from responsibility, screaming into the mirror whenever he is alone, and assorted other things. Mainly the eczema thing though. @garyblogden

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