Are You Well Enough to be at Work?

Are You Well Enough to be at Work?

21st December 2015

One of the leading trade insurance specialists recently carried out some research which led to some worrying discoveries for the construction industry here in the UK.  It seems that more than 90% of the construction workers who responded to the survey admitted to having attended work in the knowledge that they were really too ill or injured to carry out the tasks expected of them to a high enough standard.  A total of more than 2,300 construction workers responded to the survey, all of whom have been working in the construction sector within a variety of different industries for the past five years. 

All of the respondents were asked whether or not they are entitled to payment from their employer if they were ill or suffering from an injury.  Almost half of those surveyed (47%) were freelance or self-employed workers who are not entitled to sick pay.  Alarmingly, 21% of respondents were unsure of the sick pay rules in place in their current workplace. 

When the participants in the survey were asked whether they have worked when ill or injured, a massive 91% admitted that they have done so, despite being aware that they were unable to perform at their best and complete the tasks assigned to them to a high enough standard.  When given a list of reasons for doing so, the following results were returned:

·         I needed to make sure that I earned enough to pay all of my bills (72%)

·         I didn’t realise how ill I was until I arrived at my place of work (61%)

·         I didn’t want to risk losing my job because I was sick (53%)

·         I didn’t want younger workmates to think I was getting too old to do the job (21%)

·         I thought that being at work would make me feel better (14%)

These responses clearly demonstrate that most of the respondents attended work while unfit to do so for financial reasons and this could be partly due to the current economic climate.  We all appreciate that times are hard and that jobs can be difficult to find, many of us are actually slightly less well off than we were before the financial crisis and this has made us less confident that our jobs are secure. 

While it’s accepted that those who work in different industries (such as administration, retail, etc.) are still able to work to an adequate standard whilst feeling under the weather without it causing a problem, those who work in the construction industry really should stay home when they’re not fit to work.  It’s easy enough to muddle through in an office job when we’re not feeling in tip top condition, but it’s a very different matter for those working the high-pressure manual construction sector.  The work itself is likely to be more difficult on a physical level and there’s also the safety issues to take into consideration.  Not only do we need to make sure that the work undertaken is carried out to a high standard to ensure the safety of the structure being worked on, there’s also the fact that any mistakes made could have a serious impact on others working in the same area.  We also need to take into account that somebody working in a high risk situation (such as working at height) or using power tools is much more likely to have an accident if they’re not really well enough to be working.