Teachers least-likely professionals to 'pull a sickie'

Research looked at 24 separate employment sectors and those working in teaching and education were the most conscientious when it came to feigning illness to a secure day off

Amy Gibbons

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Teachers are less likely to feign illness to skip work than any other employees, according to a new survey.

Research found that less than a quarter of those working in the teaching, training and education sector have lied about being ill to secure a day off.

This makes them less likely to "pull a sickie" than employees in any of the 23 other employment sectors surveyed – including charity and voluntary work; creative arts and design; and marketing, advertising and PR.

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Researchers asked more than 2,000 employees across 24 sectors, of whom 316 work in teaching, training and education: "Have you ever pretended to be ill to get a day off work?".

Just 24 per cent of educators admitting to feigning illness to skip work, compared to 76 per cent of people working in retail, and 68 per cent in leisure, sport and tourism.

Meanwhile, 7 per cent of those working in teaching, training and education confessed to lying about being ill on more than one occasion, according to the study commissioned by property agents Savoy Stewart.

Last year, a separate study found that almost half of classroom teachers in England "always" feel compelled to go to work, even when feeling unwell.

This compared with an average of 26 per cent of employees in other sectors.

Sinéad McBrearty, chief executive of the Education Support Partnership charity, which carried out last year's survey in partnership with YouGov, urged teachers to practice “self-care” and called on schools to remove the stigma around sickness absence.

"We know that presenteeism is a very real issue in our schools," she said. 

"If we don’t tackle this as a priority, we can expect the pressing issue of long-term sickness rates amongst teachers to rise over the coming years."

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU teaching union, said: "Teachers go into work when they are ill because they are dedicated to their pupils. They know that many of their pupils rely on them to be a point of stability in their lives.

"But teachers also go into work because they are overloaded with stress and excessive workloads, and fear that if they take a day off, this will be even worse when they go back to school.

"The teachers themselves get more run down and take longer to recover. Teacher illness, overwork and stress are major problems in education and much more should be done to make their working lives better, and enable them to feel that they can take time off when they are ill."

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Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @tweetsbyames

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