Companies that take sickness absence into account when selecting workers for redundancy may face claims of disability discrimination, it has been pointed out.
Mike Emmott, advisor of public policy at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said that employees with long-term health problems may claim unfair dismissal on the grounds of disability.
He made his comments in the wake of new figures produced by Simplyhealth, which suggested that over half of people in the UK are working through illness for fear of losing their jobs.
It was also found that 43 per cent of employees have not taken any time off in the last year, which is an increase of a fifth on the previous 12-month period.
Mr Emmott added: "Having people around when they are not fit is generally a mixed blessing, particularly when you've got worries about swine flu or any kind of illness that is infectious."
The interests of individuals and those of employers are often best served when sick employees stay off work for a few days until they have recovered, he advised.