Scared to be sick

October 7, 2005

There may be a more sinisterJexplanation for the lower absence rates for university employees compared with other public and private sector workers ("Academics' good health is not to be sneezed at", September 23).J University staff may be too worried about losing their jobs if they take time off. This is how we interpreted the results of a three-year study funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England to explore occupational stress. The results show that, compared with staff in other public and private sectors, university staff were significantly more troubled by job insecurity.

Moreover, 32 per cent of respondents reported having either not taken sick leave while ill or had returned to work before they were well. Desperate times can often lead to desperate measures.

Michelle Tytherleigh Plymouth University

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