Almost a quarter (23%) of employees would not tell their boss the true reason for being absent from work because they are afraid of being judged.
Furthermore, a further 15% said they were afraid their employer would not believe them.
Research by AXA PPP healthcare found employers' unsympathetic attitudes towards illness employers are doing little to allay worker's fears.
Less than half (42%) of the 1000 senior managers polled felt flu was a serious enough reason for an employee to be absent from work.
Less than four in ten (39%) said back pain was a sufficient absence reason with just over a third (35%) believing the same for elective surgery such as a knee replacement operation or cataract surgery.
Less than a quarter (22%) believed suffering from a migraine warranted time off work.
The research found only two in five (39%) of employees would be honest with their boss about why they were off sick if the cause related to a mental issue such as stress, anxiety or depression.
In contrast, three quarters (77%) said they would tell their boss if their sickness was due to a physical ailment such as back pain, flu or an accidental injury.
Reluctance to disclose mental health issues was more pronounced in small to medium enterprises (SMEs). Employees working for smaller businesses of up to 250 staff were less likely to tell their line manager they were taking time off for stress, anxiety or depression than workers in larger sized firms.
Finally, while less than half (44%) of workers in larger sized companies said they would tell their boss if they were off due to stress, anxiety or depression, only 37% of those in SMEs said they would do likewise.
AXA PPP healthcare SME Director Glen Parkinson said employers needed to change their attitude towards sickness absence, both for their own benefit as well as that of their employees.
"With managers showing so little understanding of or support for employees suffering from illness, it's not difficult to see why employees worry about phoning in sick", Parkinson said. "Employers need to trust employees to take the appropriate time off sick and, where practicable, consider allowing them to work from home.
"Showing sympathy and flexibility when employees are unwell is crucial to maintaining a healthy and committed workforce, which in the long term creates a healthier business," he added.
The technology to improve employees’ wellbeing is already here. But it is now in employers’ hands to make sure it is used to create successful corporate wellness programmes
Here they are - the winners of the Workplace Savings and Benefits Awards 2020...
Here they are. The finalist lists for the WSB Awards 2020.
Almost all (92%) employers would consider setting up a workplace savings scheme in addition to a pension in light of recent market turmoil caused by Covid-19, Cushon finds.
There are just a few weeks left to enter this year's Workplace Savings and Benefits Awards.