New research has found that nearly half of employees surveyed would feel uncomfortable disclosing a health concern to their employer during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Most worryingly, more than one in ten are concerned about being fired, should they talk openly about serious health concerns such as cancer, chronic illnesses or mental health problems. A further fifth of those surveyed by healthcare company Reframe, said they don’t feel close enough to their managers, or have the rapport to discuss such concerns over phone or email.

Those most concerned with their job security are 25-34 year olds – either trying to get on the property ladder or raising young families. And, unsurprisingly, those with children to support are most likely to avoid disclosing health issues with their employer (17 per cent).

This lack of transparency over health concerns comes at a worrying time when more than a third of British adults are experiencing increased anxiety and depression because of coronavirus uncertainty, according to a separate study by the University of Sheffield[1].

This YouGov study of 2,000 adults was commissioned by Reframe, a healthcare company which provides holistic support to employees during difficult times – such as being diagnosed with cancer, or having to provide care for family members.

Reframe also found that since lockdown, one fifth of employees have experienced increased pressure to provide care to others, such as relatives, neighbours or friends, which they are struggling to balance alongside work.

The age group found to be most affected by this are 45-54 year-olds – often referred to as the ‘sandwich generation’ – likely to be caring for elderly parents who can’t shop or seek medical supplies in person. Those with three or more children to manage, on top of work and caring duties, felt this pressure most acutely (36 per cent).

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.”

Reframe works with major employers across the UK, including Unum and the Rugby Football Union, to offer staff a healthcare package which supports them holistically through some of the most difficult times in their lives, to ensure they still feel supported in the workplace.

To find out more about Reframe, visit www.reframe.co.uk or call 0207 965 0286.

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