Overall, nearly three quarters (72 per cent) of those surveyed went into work last year whilst sick.
And more than half (53 per cent) of those questioned went into work with a contagious illness such as the flu or a cold in the past year.
Marcus Powell, Managing Director, Nuffield Health, Corporate Wellbeing, said: “Employees going into work sick costs business dearly - up to £15billion a year. Our research shows the economic downturn has made people more likely to go into work sick often because they fear losing their job.
“This is bad for business. At Nuffield Health we work with more than 1,000 corporate clients to help them maintain a healthy workforce.
“The corporate world knows that staff wellbeing directly affects their profits. That is why more and more businesses are providing good clinical and fitness experts for their workers.”
The age group most likely to go into work sick are those aged between 16 and 24 – 85 per cent said they went into work sick last year and nearly half (48 per cent) said they were more likely to go into work sick because of the economic downturn.
The income group most likely to go into work sick because of the recession is those earning below £20,000 followed by those earning between £21,000 and £30,000 and those earning between £31,000 and £50,000.
Dr Andy Jones, Medical Director at Nuffield Health, said: “Effective health and wellbeing is about helping people to make the choices to stay physically and mentally fit.
“Presenteeism means those who are ill go into work sick, possibly infecting others. Any doctor would advise workers to stay at home and rest if they are unwell.”
Our survey asked 1,600 UK workers what the most important factors were in deciding to go into work sick. The most important factor overall among those surveyed was too much work, second job security and third workplace culture.
Women were slightly more likely than men to go into work because of the economic recession (33 per cent compared to 27 per cent).
Those sectors feeling the most pressure to go into work sick are the retail industry, followed by manufacturing then education.
Twenty-one per cent said they were exercising less since the start of the economic downturn.
Research from Aston University (2010) revealed the cost of presenteeism to be £15billion annually. This is estimated at twice the cost of absenteeism, according to the Economic and Social Research Council.
In a report last year by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), presenteeism was shown to worsen stress levels, negatively effect productivity by transfer of illness and the sick being unable to work effectively.