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Women pull more sickies than men, survey finds

Women take more time off work sick than men, according to a report from the Benenden Healthcare Society.

Researchers found men fail to make it to the office for a total of five months during their career, while women take seven months of sick days, with stomach bugs, dizziness and full-on viruses the most common ailments keeping them bed-bound.

But despite the figures, it emerged women are more likely to 'try their hardest to make it to their desk' and 'feel guilty' if they succumb to a bout of the sniffles and end up dumping their workload on colleagues.

Men are more likely to be called up by their boss because of their poor track record.

The Benenden study of 1000 men and 1000 women quizzed them on their attitudes and behaviours towards feeling ill, having to take time off work - and drew gender comparisons. It found the average adult takes three and a half days off work a year because of illness - or 141 during their working life - with men taking 140 and women 189.

Men fared much worse when it came to their dedication in making it into work, though. Four in ten men admitted to calling in sick the moment they feel ill, a quarter have been called up by their boss and men are more likely to take the easy route out and text or email their manager, rather than phone in.

Eight in ten men said they try their best to make it into work, compared to nine in ten women. Four in ten feel guilty leaving their colleagues in the lurch and just half worry about workloads when they're tucked up in bed.

Just three in ten female workers on the other hand ring in the second they start sniffling and will soldier on regardless. Fewer than in one five have ever had a talking-to by their boss about their sick leave and they will pick up the phone when they have to let others know they won't be in.

Two-thirds of women are left feeling guilty if they have to let their boss know they're staying at home, while just a third of men said the same. Some 70% feel like they are unable to take any time off work, compared to six in ten men who admit to the same pressure. They have also sat at their desk on at least eight occasions in the last year when they knew they should be at home resting, compared to six for men.

The report also revealed men will ring in sick for more minor illnesses such as hay fever, sore throat and headache, while women stay in bed with symptoms such as vomiting, flu and high temperature.

Tony Williams, consultant occupational physician at Benenden Hospital, commented on the results: "Everyone who goes off sick does so for a reason, but the reason is not always related to disease or illness.

"Women are usually the principal carer for children and if a child is sick they may take time off 'sick' to look after the child. If managers do more to find out why employees were off sick, they may be able to come up with alternative solutions and support mechanisms that can help reduce overall sickness absence. Working from home can often be an answer.

"The fitter people are, the less sickness absence they have. Obese people have four days more sickness per year, but many women of normal weight are still physically unfit and more likely to have sickness absence. Businesses that focus on physical fitness and health of their staff through opportunities for healthy eating and exercise will reduce sickness absence substantially."