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Vast Majority of Employees Work While Sick

Some 77 percent of employees report going to work while sick, citing heavy workloads and childcare issues as two reasons for not taking time away from work.

According to a recent Tell It Now poll by ComPsych Corp., a provider of employee assistance programs, managed behavioral health, work-life and crisis intervention services, employees said they worked when sick because:

  • My workload makes it too difficult to take off (33 percent).
  • It feels "risky" to take off in the current work environment (26 percent).
  • I save my sick days for when my kids need me (18 percent).

Only one-quarter (23 percent) of the employees interviewed said they do take off work when sick.

"Despite one of the toughest flu seasons in recent memory, the vast majority of employees who got sick forced themselves to work this winter," said Dr. Richard A. Chaifetz, chairman and CEO of ComPsych. "Unfortunately, the practice of working while sick - often perpetuated by corporate culture - not only results in 'presenteeism,' but in the spread of illness for an even greater reduction in productivity. Employers should encourage workers to take time off when sick, which actually will increase productivity in the long term."

The study included responses from employees at more than 700 companies.

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