Why You Should Send Sick Employees Home Even if You’re Busy

Every year, many people show up to work sick and try to tough it out in order to avoid losing paid time off or a day’s wages.

Sadly, employees who are given paid sick days don’t always use them. Just 16 percent of US workers used their entire paid sick allotment in 2015, according to a survey released in July by NPR. While 6 percent of employees used the majority of their paid sick days, 45 percent used some and 32 percent didn’t use any, the survey found.

The demands of modern society are such that many employees don’t even want to take a vacation, much less miss work as a result of ‘a couple sniffles’. However, allowing the body to rest means colds last days, not weeks.

Supervisors should do everything in their power to keep sick employees home for a couple of very good reasons.

Sick people are contagious

Schools send home sick students with a fever, pink eye or vomiting because they don’t want illness to spread, and companies should take a similar approach.

Nobody wants to get their co-workers sick. Employees also do not want to get behind or give their co-workers more to do. However, most people would probably prefer taking on a bit more work than be hit by the flu for 7 to 10 days.

Furthermore, some employees may have small children in the house, look after elderly relatives or even have a damaged immune system as a result of chronic disease or medical care. These people are at greater risk from a cold or flu virus. Keeping sick employees home keeps these vulnerable people safe.

Lower productivity

When you don’t feel well, your thinking is muddled and in many cases, doing a mundane task may be exhausting. In addition, you may be taking a medication that makes you drowsy or irritable. So while heading into work isn’t the best thing to do, people often think going in and getting some work done is better than getting none done at all.

‘Presenteeism’ is an expression used to describe when workers come to work sick and functioning at a reduced capacity. Research has revealed the overall annual cost of lost productivity from presenteeism is more than $150 billion. Workers who are “out of it” have a tendency to make more errors, take more time on tasks and find it difficult to make sound decisions.

What to do

For most viruses, the contagious period starts the day before symptoms crop up and ends five to seven days after symptoms appear. If possible, make arrangements for sick employees to work from home when they are most contagious. Also train employees on good hygiene habits like avoiding close contact and regularly washing hands.

Executives and supervisors should set the example for their workers and stay home when they are sick. If your organization doesn’t offer paid sick days, look into developing a plan. Also, if an employee has a serious cold or case of the flu and they come to work, that person should be sent home for health of the remainder of the staff.

At LTI, we provide companies with a staffing solution that makes sending home full-time staff easier to manage. With cold and flu season approaching, contact us today.