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Thursday, August 5, 1999 Published at 11:51 GMT 12:51 UK


UK

Men take fewer sick days than women

Men are less likely to call in sick

Men are less likely to take time off work through sickness than women, according to a new study.

Up until the age of 40, men are off sick for just 2% of their working lives, about half that for women.

The research, published by the Office for National Statistics, also showed that absence rates were higher in the north of the country than the south.

Absenteeism rises with age

Public sector workers take more time off sick than employees in private companies, and trade unionists have higher absence rates than non-union members.

Men's absence reaches a peak of 7.5% for 60 to 64-year-olds, while for women, the same peak of 7.5% is reached at the age of 59.

Pensioners who carry on working have lower absence rates, although retired women are more likely to be absent than retired men.

Stress levels soaring

The ONS findings come amid calls for employers to reduce stress in the workplace.

The TUC says unions are currently seeking compensation for stress in almost 500 cases, the highest on record.

"Stress is now the number one problem at work - and is on the increase," said Tom Mellish, the TUC's health and safety policy officer.

"We are pressing for an approved code of practice to deal with stress to give protection to workers."

Impact of long hours

Research by a New York marketing firm showed the UK was in the top three countries for stress, while the US was seventh.

Leading occupational psychologist Cary Cooper said British workers were putting in longer hours and spending less time with their families.

But the price of this culture was high, with three out of four managers admitting that long working hours were affecting their relationship with their partner and children - and half saying it slowed down their productivity.

Dr Cooper said: "Against these statistics, the long-hours culture looks indefensible.

"Do senior executives really think long hours mean better performance?

"Do they truly believe that flexible working arrangements and family-friendly policies encourage a wimps' paradise.

"The macho and inflexible manager of the 19th and 20th century is not what working human beings need for the 21st century."



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