“People are scared to take sick days when they have colds!” says throat lozenge

Another Brexit bonus… staff ‘sickies’ slump: Growing fears over job security means number of days taken off falls

Growing fears over job security have fuelled a slump in ‘sickies’ in the workplace, according to a new report yesterday.

For the latest research shows that the number of days British workers are taking off for coughs, cold and flu has fallen once again, as concerns over job security, Brexit and letting colleagues down have combined to keep the workforce battling into work even when ill.

Source: Daily Mail, 8th November 2016

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That’s right, the fear of losing your job due to chaos and uncertainty in the job market is just ‘another’ Brexit bonus – chalk them up, that’s… well, one, now. And not even one, as this isn’t really a true bonus, or a true fact about reality, but instead it’s an advert for a throat lozenge:

The annual Fisherman’s Friend Cold and Flu Survey found that while last year’s annual study recorded the first rise in eight years in terms of the number of days taken off by UK workers, the latest study found that the average worker took just 1.67 days off in the last year for minor ailments (2015 – 1.85). This is despite suffering with three bouts of illness that would usually have merited more time off work.

Leaving aside that there’s not a great deal of evidence that throat lozenges are particularly effective at remedying the symptoms of a cold, it’s worth highlighting that the revelation that people are taking fewer sick days isn’t taken from a review of employers, but an opinion poll which asked people to recall their sickness record – a method which is open to all manner of biases and inaccuracies. Which is fine, because neither the Daily Mail nor Fisherman’s Friend need the story to be accurate, they just need it to be chock-full of numbers and assertions so that it resembles a news article, rather than the advert it is.

Of course, the quote from the official spokesperson helps cut through any suspicion that this is serious research, and exposes the motivation of the company in putting the PR survey together:

“Despite last year’s rise in the number of days off for the first time in eight years, this year’s Fisherman’s Friend Cold and Flu Survey once again shows that workers’ concerns are real and have an impact on attitudes towards taking time off work to recover from illness,” said Fisherman’s Friend spokesman Rob Metcalfe.

Nevertheless, whatever the motivation for workers’ concerns when ill, what is clear is that more than eight out of 10 of us will have suffered with a cough, cold or flu on at least one occasion in the last year, showing how important it is for workers to manage their symptoms if they want to power through when suffering with minor ailments.”