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One in five British workers have taken stress-induced sick leave, but 93 per cent say they have lied to their boss about why they needed the time off. (iStockphoto)
One in five British workers have taken stress-induced sick leave, but 93 per cent say they have lied to their boss about why they needed the time off. (iStockphoto)

Many British workers lie about 'mental-health' days: study Add to ...

British bosses might want to take a second look at the excuses their employees use to stay home from work. A new study reveals that their real ailment may be stress, not sickness.

To mark Wednesday's Stress Awareness Day, a British mental-health charity called Mind released a survey that showed many of the country's workers have lied to their bosses about taking sick leave when they feel overwhelmed by stress.

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The survey revealed that one in five workers have taken stress-induced sick leave, but 93 per cent say they have lied to their boss about why they needed the time off.

Most employees opted to blame an upset stomach, problems with their home or a sick relative rather than admit they were feeling overwhelmed.

"Millions of people experience unmanageable stress at work, and the fact that so many people feel forced to lie about it rather than finding a solution should be a major concern for our businesses," said Mind chief executive officer Paul Farmer. "If employees don't feel they can be honest about the pressures on them, problems that aren't addressed can quickly snowball into low morale, low productivity and high sick leave."

And most employees said they would rather be honest about how they feel. More than 70 per cent said they would like to discuss stress with their bosses, and a third were open to their employer approaching them directly when they are showing signs of stress.

Mind's research also reveals that the majority of employees feel their bosses aren't doing enough to look after the workplace wellbeing of their staff, and that stress has made 21 per cent or workers physically ill and driven 10 per cent into counselling.

Mr. Farmer said companies need to focus on recognizing the signs of stress and implementing programs to help employees cope.

"Stress can be a taboo word in many workplaces, but pretending the problem isn't there only makes things worse," he said.

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