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Increasing numbers of British workers claim they're so worried about losing their jobs that many are trudging into work even when sick with a cold or flu, according to Fisherman’s Friends annual British Cold and Flu Survey.

Six out of 10 workers said they didn’t take a single day off from work due to a cold or flu during 2012 and the average worker was struck down with an average of two such illnesses.

Research commissioned by Fisherman’s Friend – which polled 2,000 adults throughout the UK – also found that the average amount of time taken off by workers for such ailments was less than 1.4 days in 2012, compared with an average of two days the previous year, and more than double that number (four days) just four years ago.

The further fall in absenteeism is estimated to have shaved an extra £1.35 billion off the cost of winter ailments to the UK economy through lost working hours, with time off for colds and flu now leaving employers with a bill of £3.26 billion a year . That compares with an estimated cost of £9 billion when Fisherman’s Friend conducted its first annual survey in 2008.

“Our annual survey makes fascinating reading as it shows how the average British worker is now increasingly determined to carry on working even when ill,” said Fisherman’s Friend spokesman Rob Metcalfe. “During more auspicious times, people appear much more confident to call in sick and rest up until they get better. But when people fear for their jobs, they are much more determined to show their dedication to the cause, even when ill.”

Fisherman’s Friend also said it saw sales of its throat lozenges soar in the run up to Christmas 2012. “We have definitely seen a massive increase in the popularity of our products as workers look for help in managing their symptoms,” added Metcalfe. “More than six million lozenges were sold in the UK in October alone – a staggering 32% more than last year, and the best sales figures we’ve seen for six years!”

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