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Study Says People Come to Work Sick Because of Pressure

Savvy stats that show 34 percent of you are too busy to miss work when you're sick and 22 percent of you are just too stubborn to stay home, go right along with a national study where half the people reported they go to work when they're sick.

A new poll conducted by NPR, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health looks at the reasons why people go to work when they don't feel well. The main causes include the fact most workers don't have paid sick leave or that they feel pressure from their employer to be present no matter how they feel. Robert Blendon, of the Harvard School of Public Health, says:

The fact that so many people feel they can't stay at home for economic reasons is not the best way to go in terms of the best health of families. You want them to feel that if they're sick, the best option is to stay home without serious financial penalties.

Does your work offer paid sick leave or are you penalized financially when you call in with the flu and have to risk spreading your germs around?


Join The Conversation
blu-eyes blu-eyes 9 years
I use my sick time when Im sick. I cant work when Im miserable and dont feel well, I would rather be home in my bed. It irritates when my coworkers come in sick and breathe their sick germs on me when I know they have hundreds of hours of sick time saved up, but are just too stubborn to use it!
piper23 piper23 9 years
I never go into work sick. That's what sick days are for. And I've learned that the world doesn't end if I miss a day of work.
gooniette gooniette 9 years
I used to come in sick because my work gave quarterly attendance bonuses if we didn't take any sick days or leave without pay. Then they got rid of that policy because of a merger and just comibined vacation days and sick days into PTO, so if I feel bad next time, I'll call in.
CoralAmber CoralAmber 9 years
I'm happy my work encourages me to stay home when I am sick, they don't want me spreading germs around, but I am part time and do not get PTO. Unfortunately, a bad precident was set at my college. Many of the teachers had a "no excuse" policy. If you missed more than two or three days of class (which could happen if you had the flu for a week) you basically couldn't pass, even with a doctor's note. I was sick a lot in college (a combination of stress and other things). One semester I ended up having to drop out until the next year because I missed too much class and my teachers were unsympathetic (No make up tests!). Another semester I squeaked by with a barely passing grade in everything for the same reason. I understand the need to discourage slacking, but stuff happens!
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
i 100% agree with this story. i do have sick days and all that but i feel a lot of pressure if i'm not in the office working on things. it's like there's always a crisis going on in my office and if i take the day off then the 'shit hits the fan'. i hate that i feel obligated to come in even when i'm not feeling well and on the rare day that i do stay home from work - i usually work from there so i don't get behind. that's sad isn't it?
magickalrealism magickalrealism 9 years
Most places I have worked for actively penalize those who take sick days, even if it is within the minimum sick days allowed. I even had one office start listing my vacation days as me taking sick days when a manager that disliked me couldn't actually find any verifiable problems with my performance.
foxie foxie 9 years
I go to work sick because the alternative, at my base anyways, is to go to sick call or the emergency room and wait for 8 hours, which is almost an entire duty day in itself.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
I think that combining sick days and vacation in the same bucket encourages people to come into work feeling miserable. Who wants to give up a vacation day? I work at home so this isn't an issue. Thank goodness, too. Nothing worse than people coming into work sick as dogs and then spreading it around. I wish people didn't abuse sick days. Then this wouldn't be an issue.
Martini-Rossi Martini-Rossi 9 years
not me! I make sure I used ALL of my sick, personal and vacation days. I just hate when sick ppl come to work @ my job! They are exposing their coworkers with their nasty germs! Its called a SICK DAY for a reason - stay home! We all work in cubes - 4 ppl per cube imagine the germs...yuk
Tami715 Tami715 9 years
At my job, sick days and vacation days are both considered PTO. If I call in sick, I lose vacation time. There have been times when I've come into the office with a box of tissues, bottle of TheraFlu, my favorite mug, about 20 tea bags, and a jar of honey. Then sit there sneezing and coughing all day. It's miserable, but I hate sacrificing my vacation days.
SDTransplant SDTransplant 9 years
I get 12 sick days a year (one per month) and I guess I should consider myself very lucky. It's been very useful and I can use my sick time to go to doctor's appointments and even care for sick relatives.
pinky23 pinky23 9 years
no PTO for me either (i'm an intern), but to my knowledge, the full-time workers around me get PTO.
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
""To go home sick during Saturday afternoon rush, you pretty much have to throw up on a customer." I would have done that if at all possible!
Ryot Ryot 9 years
The one and only time I have quit a job on the spot as at a mall store that wouldn't let me go home when I was running a fever. I think the actual quote was something like "To go home sick during Saturday afternoon rush, you pretty much have to throw up on a customer." They gave me a 15 minute break instead. I used it to call my dad and talk to him about the situation, then I walked back in and quit. I had been working there less than two weeks, and a few days later found a much better job at the same mall. Thankfully that was almost a decade ago. Now I'm a consultant and contractor, so while I don't get any paid sick days, my time is a lot more flexible. However, I have a chronic illness that can be sent into a flare if I catch a bug, so I have to be really careful. I try to avoid people when they're sick (which can make my days in the office a bit odd), and definitely take the time I need when I do fall ill -- otherwise I'll just pay for it for the next four to six months, and not be able to work at all. My husband works a regular office job, and I have to remind him to take the time he needs when he gets sick. The guys he works with have a horrible habit of working when they're sick, and touching everything, but a little Purell goes a long way. ;)
Rancher'sGirl Rancher'sGirl 9 years
I worked for a company that gave no sick days or vacation unless you were "full-time" which almost no one was. I worked 40-50 hours a week during the peak season and then about 25 during the off. Therefore I was considered "part-time". If I took a day off to be sick in the winter, I couldn't pay my rent. I learned that I have the strength to keep working even when I thought I was going to fall over. I decided I wouldn't give them the satisfaction of seeing me give up. Sooo glad those days are over!
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
No PTO for me, so if I sick out, I miss a day's pay.
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
my work offers sick days...but, since I was sick a lot this winter, I used most of mine up and they made a huge stink about me being more sick then the adverage person!
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