The ‘man flu’ stereotype of male workers may not apply in the legal profession, the latest research on the health and wellbeing of solicitors suggests. 

The Law Society’s PC Holder Survey 2014 reports that more than a third (35%) of women took time off last year due to ill health or injury, compared with 25% of men.

Of the 30% who took sick leave, four out of five took off five days or fewer, 10% had been ill for between six and 10 days, and 10% were off for two weeks or more.

More than a third (39%) of respondents said they went to work when they should have taken sick leave, compared with 45% in 2013. Half of those aged under the age of 30 took sick leave last year, compared with around a quarter of those aged 41 or over.

Nearly all respondents reported experiencing ‘negative stress' – when stress levels start to impact on day-to-day life and on-going health; 96% cited it, compared with 95% in 2013. Nearly one-fifth (19%) of respondents suffered ‘severe’ or ‘extreme’ stress in 2014, up from 16% in 2013.

The survey, carried out between July and October last year, attracted 1,570 responses. 

Of those who suffered ‘severe’ or ‘extreme’ stress, 20% worked in private practice, 19% worked in government and 16% worked in-house.

Society president Jonathan Smithers said: ‘Law can be a demanding career. Many of us are drawn to the intellectual challenge and thrive on the high pressure the work entails, but we should also consider our own health and wellbeing.’

According to the survey less than than half (44%) of solicitors work for firms or organisations that provide pastoral care such as an employee assistance scheme or telephone helpline. 

Solicitors working for either central or local government were most likely to report having access to pastoral care (76%), compared to those working in-house (65%) or private practice (38%).

Over two-thirds (68%) of respondents were aware of at least one source of support, which includes the Law Society Pastoral Care Helpline, Solicitors Benevolent Association (SBA The Solicitors' Charity), Solicitors Assistance Scheme and LawCare.

Telephone support

Law Society Pastoral Care Helpline: 020 7320 5795

Solicitors Benevolent Association: 020 8675 6440

Solicitors Assistance Scheme: 020 7117 8811

LawCare: 0800 279 6888