Over half of prison officers feel under pressure to go to work when ill, research reveals.
Academics at the University of Bedfordshire have found that staff shortages, pressure from management, fear of letting colleagues down and feelings of job insecurity are among the main reasons for ‘presenteeism’ – attending work when feeling sick.
They warn the number of prison officers is falling dramatically while the number of violent prisoner incidents is increasing rapidly.
The researchers quizzed 1,682 prison officers from across the UK about working when feeling unwell and the reasons why they do this. Levels of job demands, control and support at work and job-related burnout were also assessed.
As many as 84% of prison officers admit they feel pressurised to work when unwell at least “sometimes”, while more than half “always” experience such pressure.
Those who find their work more demanding, and who lack control and support from managers, are the most likely to work when sick.
Doing so can have serious implications on a person’s health. Officers who continue to work when unwell on a regular basis are typically more burned out than those who take time off to recover.
Statutory sick pay is available to people who earn more than an average of £112 a week and have been ill for more than four days including weekends and bank holidays.
While work that has been well designed, managed and organised is something that can be good for a person, work that has been poorly designed, organised or managed can lead to stressful situations.
Work-related stress can occur at any job level. It is widespread and not simply confined to certain job sectors, industries or jobs.
The condition develops when an individual is unable to cope with the demands that their job is placing on them. But many people choose to ignore it rather than talk about it, meaning they run the risk of developing further problems such as heart disease, gastrointestinal illnesses and back pain.
Employers have a duty of care to protect employees at all times. This includes keeping an eye on their psychological state, as well as ensuring they are safe from hazards in the workplace that could cause physical harm.
Date Published: January 11, 2016
Author: Jonathan Brown