The cost of being sick at work

When you’re sick, do you stay home from work until you’re well?  Or do you pack your meds and tissues and head in to work anyway?

We all know that when we’re really and truly sick, we owe it to our co-workers and our selves to stay home.  No one wants to catch what we have, and when we’re sick our body really does need rest.  Yet, most people, when asked, will admit to coming to work sick.  The reason?  They simply can’t afford to stay home.  But what specifically do we mean by “can’t afford?”

  • We have so much to do at work, that we simply can’t miss a day or else risk getting seriously behind on projects.
  • We have team members counting on us to be there, and we don’t want to let them down.
  • We have a limited number of paid days off, and we prefer to reserve our “sick days” for vacation.
  • Our company doesn’t provide enough/any paid sick days, so we literally can’t afford the expense of a day off.

Do any of these reasons sound familiar?  Still, there are costs associated with coming to work sick as well.  Namely, your health, and the toll not being able to rest when you need to eventually takes on you.  Not to mention the fact that by spreading germs and getting those around you sick, you compound the problem.  In the end, coming to work sick may account for more reduced productivity than if a worker had stayed home in the first place.

Yet, paid sick time, along with other benefits during a weak economy, is being cut.  Says this article in the WSJ, 32% of businesses with fewer than 50 employees provided paid time off specifically for illness in 2011, compared with 39% in 2009.

And federal efforts to regulate paid sick time, such as when Obama proposed requiring employers with 15+ workers to provide 7 paid sick days, were met with obstacles because of fears that a one-size-all approach puts businesses at a disadvantage.

We don’t think patchy government regulation is the answer.  But you can’t argue with the fact that sick people deserve to take the time away from work to get better.  Today, working remotely is easier than ever and may be a viable option for people who feel well enough to work, but don’t want to come to the office with a contagious cold.

On the worker’s part, being personally accountable and not abusing sick days can also go far to make it easier for businesses to provide this paid time at home for their employees.

About TRC Staffing Services, Inc.


  1. We All Know You’d Rather Use Your “Sick” Days for Vacation | Amosil·Q Blog - September 5, 2012

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