Surveys find 80 percent of employees go to work sick

WASHINGTON – A sneeze can be one of the most unwelcome sounds in an office — no one wants to be doused with germs.

But despite an innate desire to avoid sickness, a Staples survey of 150 office workers and 100 facility managers found that almost 80 percent of office workers show up sick to work. What’s even worse is over two-thirds of workers reported going to work when they knew they were contagious.

Even doctors aren’t immune to these statistics. A recent Massachusetts General Hospital survey reported that 51 percent of doctors surveyed went to work with flu-like symptoms.

It seems sick days have taken a back seat in the midst of the recession. A Bloomberg survey conducted earlier this year found that sick days have decreased by 50 percent since 2006, and the Staples survey reported that over 25 percent of workers said they go to work sick to avoid taking a day off. A Swedish study also found that workers go to work sick because they don’t want to be seen as unreliable.

A report from the Center for American Progress helps shed some light on employees’ refusal to take sick days: almost 40 percent of private-sector workers do not receive paid sick days, and the U.S. is the only developed country that does not guarantee paid sick leave.

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