Are Allergies a Good Enough Reason to Miss Work?

Posted 23 June 2014

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Allergy sufferers get little sympathy if they take time off work but could be impacted physically and financially just like other sufferers of long term conditions and illnesses

Are your eyes and nose streaming? Sneezing? Head fit to explode?

Well don’t expect much sympathy from the great British public: according to research carried out on behalf of Debt Advisory Centre, 12 out of 13 people believe that hay fever sufferers should continue working, however bad their symptoms get.


June is typically peak season for hay fever in the UK, and the warmer weather has already increased the pollen count, leaving many people feeling irritable, tired, unwell - and potentially out of pocket as they fork out for hay fever remedies.


The symptoms can continue for weeks, sometimes months if you are unlucky enough to be allergic to a range of pollens.


Yet our research shows you are far more likely to get a sympathetic response - from more than half the UK population in fact - about taking time off work if you are suffering from a less visible but far more common long term condition such as back pain.


Effect on finances

It’s hard to say why some long term conditions and illnesses generate more sympathy than others.


But the effect on your finances can be very similar, no matter what the cause.


As part of our campaign to raise awareness of the cost of chronic illness, we’ve been hearing from members of the public that suffer from a variety of conditions. They’ve told us that their long term illnesses not only impact them physically, but also hamper their ability to earn money.


Laura, who suffers from inflammatory arthritis as well as several mental health disorders, said: “I have always been unable to go out to work so for the past three years I've worked part time from home. My income is very limited at just £150 per month but I can't take on a second part-time job outside the home due to my mental health problems, and finding a legitimate job that is reasonably paid and can be done from home is extremely difficult.” ****


Common problem

Laura is far from being alone in feeling the impact of her long term illnesses on several levels.


High profile examples of people suffering financially because of chronic illness include Love Actually actress Martine McCutcheon and R&B singer Toni Braxton.


McCutcheon declared herself bankrupt in January 2013 after a long battle with ME** left her unable to work. Braxton, who has been diagnosed with the autoimmune condition Lupus, also went bankrupt after illness forced her to pull out of a show and cover the costs***.


Money worries

For most people with ongoing illnesses and conditions, the financial problems caused are less dramatic but no less worrying.


And having concerns about money is the last thing you need when you are ill.


Our research shows that - unless you suffer from an allergy like hay fever - about three quarters of the people in the UK are sympathetic to those suffering from various kinds of long term illness to the extent that they believe they are justified in taking long absences from work.


So if you feel your financial concerns are dragging you down, try talking to your family or friends about the situation. The old adage “a trouble shared is a trouble halved” may not be strictly true, but bringing a problem into the open can certainly help.


Your GP is also in a good position to suggest where you might find financial support and advice, or ways in which you can cut the cost of prescriptions and adaptations necessary because of your illness.


Help at hand

If that doesn’t work and you feel your financial problems are becoming overwhelming, you should not feel you have to struggle on with them alone.

If you’re struggling with debt, please get in touch and one of our team will be happy to discuss your options with you.


Just fill in the form, and a member of our team will call to see if we can help.


*OnePoll questioned a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults aged 18 and over between 2nd May and 12th May 2014, of whom 500 were Scottish residents. Figures have been extrapolated to fit ONS 2013 population projections of 50,371,000 UK adults.



****Information from personal testimonial supplied to Debt Advisory Centre staff on May 23rd 2014.

by Kyri Levendi

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