March 2013 Issue
February 28, 2013

The rising costs of 'presenteeism'

Author: Wendy Hord, NYSUT Health & Safety specialist
Source: NYSUT United

This year's flu outbreak is the worst in a few years, and is affecting almost every state in the country. In New York, Gov. Cuomo declared a state flu emergency after the state Department of Health noted that more than 15,000 flu cases were reported over the previous year.

Compounding the problem is a new strain of norovirus that has caused severe intestinal illness outbreaks around the country. These and other communicable diseases can cause serious illness.

This reminds us how important it is to maintain health for ourselves and others. Workers who are ill need to stay home until they feel better. Many people go to work sick and don't function at their usual level of productivity. It's a condition called "presenteeism," which actually costs employers more than absenteeism.

If you go to work sick, it will take you longer to get over whatever you have, and you may spread your illness to other employees. Employers need policies to encourage workers to stay home or to leave work when sick. Even with all the pressures of the job, please help yourselves and others and stay home when you're sick.