Employees not comfortable disclosing health concerns due to COVID-19

Almost half of employees now do not feel comfortable telling their boss they have a serious health concern due to COVID-19, with some even worried it will result in them being fired.

This research comes from Reframe, a healthcare company that found that 47 per cent of workers would feel uncomfortable if they talked openly about their concerns such as cancer, chronic illnesses or mental health problems.

More than one-tenth are concerned that if they do, they will be fired. Younger workers (25-34-year-olds) are the most concerned regarding their job security as they are either trying to get on the property ladder or starting a family. A separate study conducted by the University of Sheffield found that more than a third of British adults are either experiencing anxiety or depression due to the uncertainty brought on by COVID-19.

Since the lockdown was enforced, one-fifth of staff have experienced increased pressure to provide care to others like relatives, neighbours or friends. The age group most likely to be caring for others is 45-54-year-olds.

Tim Warren, commercial director at Reframe said:

Coronavirus is affecting people in so many ways, and it’s incredibly worrying to see so many feel like they must hide their health concerns from their employers for fear of negative consequences.

Over the past few years, our economy has been making strides to improve transparency between employers and employees over illnesses like cancer or anxiety which can affect work. But the current circumstances of Covid-19 risks sending us many steps back and reaffirming damaging stigmas.

We recognise that many employers are facing uncertainty about their businesses’ future. However we implore them to check in regularly with staff and ensure an open and honest dialogue is maintained throughout this time. Keeping illness hidden can cause psychological damage to people’s health, and at a time when we all need to support others as much as possible, employers have a duty to support their employees in more ways than just financially.

This research is based on a 2,000 adult YouGov survey commissioned by Reframe.