Do you go to work sick? One in four Americans do

Many of us know someone who we believe has abused their company’s “sick leave” policy in the past. Calling in sick — even if you aren’t — is not what you might call a rarity in the American business world.

That said, there are also a large number of people who actually should stay home from work because they are sick, but they don’t, spreading their germs and generally adding to a business’ costs and lowered levels of productivity.

According to a new survey, more than one-quarter of American employees — 26 percent — go into work when they are sick either because their company does not offer paid sick days or because, if they miss a day, it would be much more difficult to catch up with their workload.

The survey, conducted by NSF International, a public health company, was conducted via telephone. The group asked 1,003 people over the age of 18; 502 respondents were men.

The survey also showed that 33 percent of Americans wait until their illness symptoms are too bad to ignore any longer before they decide to skip a day of work.

Another 42 percent of respondents said they went to work while sick because of strict deadlines they were expected to meet. Thirty-seven percent said they went to work sick because they did not have paid sick leave.

Here are some more findings:

— 25 percent said they went to work sick because the boss expected them to be there no matter what (the old “Unless you’re dying, you need to be here” line of reasoning).

— Men are more likely to go to work sick than women by 16 percent.

— Thirteen percent of Americans went in sick because they did not believe a replacement co-worker could properly do their job for them.

What was even more surprising is that Americans, by and large, do not seem to object to or resent their sick co-workers. Rather, they would most likely describe them as hard, dedicated workers (“They even come in when they’re sick!”).

Indeed, 76 percent of respondents said they considered their sick co-worker a dedicated, hard-working person, while just 16 percent said they considered such behavior selfish.

“Most Americans appear to be very transparent and honest about how they feel around sick colleagues. A majority (57 percent) would tell a sick co-worker to go home if they thought they were too sick to be at work. If you are sick, try to stay home and rest at the onset of your symptoms,” NSF said in a press release summarizing the survey’s results.

But, the group said, if you must go into work sick, try to practice these good habits in the meantime:

— Eat a healthy diet and take pure, certified vitamin supplements. By keeping your immune system strong throughout the year — but especially the winter months — you can dramatically reduce the amount of time you are sick by keeping colds and flu at bay. Avoid vitamin supplements with contaminants like heavy metals, herbicides and pesticides in the product.

— If you’re at work sick, clean up. While at work, wash off utensils, disinfect the break room sponge and use paper towels instead of a communal towel to dry your hands.

— Speaking of common areas, stay out of them whenever possible. Don’t eat in the break room, and try to disinfect bathroom sinks and such when you use them.

–Really, you don’t have to come in at all. While the inclination might be to go to work, for whatever reason, and power through your illness, the best thing to do, without question, is to stay at home. Going to work puts your co-workers at risk of getting sick as well. But working through an illness also puts further strain on your immune system and can make you weaker for longer.

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