Why all is not well when it comes to our sickness record
"HAVE you ever had real flu?", I was asked last week.
The answer was yes. About 10 years ago I was laid up and it was horrible.
In fact, it has inspired me every year since to take a flu vaccination before winter sets in.
Those who spurn the chance of inoculating themselves against flu are, in my opinion, fools.
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Flu makes every sinew in the body ache and renders it impossible to get out of bed.
It is not an excuse to wag work and watch Jeremy Kyle.
I remember Mrs W moving our telly into the bedroom because she thought I would be bored but, actually, I was asleep most of the time and feeling ghastly when I was awake.
That was the last time I was off because of illness.
I joined the Telegraph seven years ago and have not had a sick day since.
That's nothing compared to our night editor, Gordon Wilson, who has never registered a day off ill in his 30 years with the Telegraph.
Naturally, we should celebrate that in middle-age we tend to be keeping healthy.
But, while accepting that some folk are genuinely ill, I fear that the country is still cursed by lead-swingers.
Personally, I try to drag myself into work when I feel off-colour because I think it is my duty. As far as I see it, I am being paid to be at my desk and that is where I should be.
According to the Office For National Statistics, the average time off sick per worker is 4.5 days a year.
Put another way, that is a nearly a whole week.
Incredibly, that figure had markedly improved since 1993, when the figure was 7.3 days. It would say that it should be even better.
What really gets my goat is that, in the private sector, 1.6% of hours is lost to sickness whereas in the public sector it is 2.6%.
When it comes to the self-employed, only 1.2% of hours are lost.
Can it possibly be that public and even private sector employees are more susceptible to sickness than those who run their own business?
Or is the reality that they just don't care as much?
Is that the fault of managers who have not instilled in them the importance of turning up and the effect on their colleagues if they don't?
It should not make a jot of difference if people work for themselves or for someone else. It should be a matter of honour that people bust a gut to get into work and give their all when they are there.
Does that sound a bit twee? Maybe. But a full commitment from our workers is the fastest way for our country to fight its way out of its economic turmoil.
Mind you, we are certainly not the worst malingerers in Europe.
In 2010, the country where workers claimed an average of more than eight days off sick was... Germany.
Of course, as I write about my exemplary sickness record, I realise I am cursing myself. Inevitably, the slight sore throat I am experiencing will be full-scale tonsillitis by tomorrow and I'll be stuck at home.