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Two percent of US employees go to work each week despite being sick

Each week, up to three million US employees go to work sick, with roughly half of these incidents due to a lack of paid leave coverage. The findings come from an analysis of information from the 2011 Leave Supplement of the American Time Use Survey.

The analysis revealed that 65 percent of full-time employees had sick pay coverage, but coverage rates were below 20 percent for employees with hourly wages below $10, part-time employees, and employees in the hospitality and leisure industry. Females, low-income earners, and those between 25 and 34 years of age were most likely to go to work when sick.

“Particularly employees in the low-wage sector lack access to paid sick leave, and many of those employees work sick and spread diseases,” said Dr. Nicolas Ziebarth, co-author of the Health Research and Educational Trust study. “Mandating access to paid sick leave and changing the sick leave culture would help to reduce the number of employees working sick.”

Study: Profiling the U.S. Sick Leave Landscape: Presenteeism among Females, Susser, P. and Ziebarth, N. R., Health Services Research, doi: 10.1111/1475-6773.12471, published online 7 March 2016.