Infectious illness presenteeism in the age of COVID-19

Presenteeism is defined as attending work in spite of illness. Presenting to work with an infectious illness such as influenza is common and causes problems due to the possibility of workplace epidemics.

Previous research investigating why this behaviour occurs has largely focused on healthcare sectors, provided inconsistent results with a small evidence base, and neglected potentially important risk factors.

As we come out of lockdown, residual risks of COVID-19 outbreaks remain with requirements for self isolation likely. This highlights the validity of carrying out research to address infectious illness presenteeism (IIP) going forward.


To investigate IIP behaviour in the current climate (particularly focusing on Yorkshire businesses) and understand why employees engage in IIP in order to inform the design of a potential intervention.


  1. Bring together expertise across the White Rose universities, providing a multidisciplinary approach to investigate IIP behaviour.
  2. Collect data to understand current IIP behaviour, why this occurs and generate intervention ideas.
  3. Communicate our findings and intervention ideas for initial feedback.
  4. Put together a grant application to assess the intervention in a larger-scaled project.

Lead Academics at Lead Institution:  
Dr Rebecca Webster (RW, ECR, Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield)

Lead Academics at other two universities:
Dr Desmond Leach (Business School, University of Leeds)
Dr Tina Kowalski (The York Management School, University of York)

Other staff

Dr Andrew Lee (School of Health and Health Related Research, University of Sheffield; Public Health England)

Dr Andrew Prestwich (School of Psychology, University of Leeds
Dr Daliya Kaskirbayeva (Leeds Institute of Health Sciences, University of Leeds)

Dr Jane Suter (The York Management School, University of York)

Other partners:
Professor Richard Amlôt, (Public Health England)

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