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A Quarter of People Go to Work Sick, Study Finds

Update Date: Feb 21, 2014 03:20 PM EST

Sick days were created so that workers who are ill can stay home and avoid spreading any infections throughout the office. However, many offices do not offer paid sick days, which could affect an employee's decision to go to work despite feeling ill. According to a new study, researchers found that over a quarter of Americans continue to go to work despite having the common cold or other infections.

The telephone survey, which was headed by the NSF International, an independent public health and environmental group, reached 1,003 adults. 502 of them were men. The participants were all aged 18 or over and lived within the United States. The survey was conducted from Jan. 23 to 26 of this year. Out of all of the interviews, the researchers found that 493 of them were working Americans.

From the data, the researchers found that 33 percent of male employees and 17 percent of female employees reported always going to work despite being ill. Overall, the researchers stated that one in four Americans went to work sick. When asked why they chose to work, 42 percent, which was the highest rate, stated that they had too many deadlines or work to accomplish. 37 percent stated that they could not afford to be sick, 25 percent reported that their boss expected them to work and 16 percent did not trust others with their work.

"A majority of Americans indicate the major reason is because of workload," the NSF said according to the Los Angeles Times. "Many have deadlines or are afraid they will have too much work to make up if they take a sick day."

The researchers found that 81 percent of co-workers stated that they cared when a fellow co-worker came to work sick. These people stated that they would speak up. 57 percent of them stated that they would specifically ask the sick co-worker to go home. 36 percent of them stated that they would not want to shake their sick co-worker's hand. 26 percent said that they would ask their co-worker to avoid their work space and 24 percent would not share their work supplies with a sick co-worker.

When the researchers looked at other co-workers in the office, they found that younger workers in the age group of 18 to 34 were the most likely to disinfect their area after a sick co-worker leaves with 53 percent of them doing so. For the age groups of 35-44 and 45-52, 42 and 36 percent of them respectively disinfected their space.

"Only 16 percent of workers felt that colleagues who came to work sick were selfish and didn't care about the well-being of their co-workers, and 13 percent believed co-workers come to work sick because they don't trust their colleagues to do the job while they are out," NSF said according to CBS News.

The report can be accessed here.

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