Work

A sobering stat during coronavirus fears—90% of employees admit they have gone to work when sick

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The most recent information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that the coronavirus has been detected in at least 50 locations internationally, including the United States.

Though the CDC says the immediate risk to the American public is low at this time, they recommend Americans take precautions. "It's currently flu and respiratory disease season, and CDC recommends getting a flu vaccine, taking everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of germs, and taking flu antivirals if prescribed," says the CDC's guidance.

In a news briefing, Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said communities across the U.S. should plan for "social distancing measures," including closing schools, canceling meetings and conferences and encouraging employees to work from home.

But a recent survey provides insight into how likely Americans actually are to stay home from work when they're sick.

According to an October report from Robert Half, 57% of employees sometimes go to work while sick, and 33% always go to work while sick, which means that as many as 90% of workers go to work while under the weather.

The staffing and human resources company surveyed more than 2,800 workers from 28 cities across the United States and found that workers consistently choose to work while ill.

The most common reason employees gave for going to work sick: that they had too much work to do (54%), followed by not wanting to use a sick day (40%) and pressure from their employer (34%).

One-quarter of those who go to work sick said it was common for their co-workers to work while sick as well.

In the United States, there are currently no federal laws that require employers to provide paid sick leave for their employees, and sick leave laws vary from state to state.

In March, Michigan joined Arizona, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington to become the 11th state to require private employers to offer paid sick leave.

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At the time of the report, Trey Barnette, regional vice president at Robert Half, said it was concerning that so many workers feel the need to go to work sick, even before coronavirus became an international concern. He added that the practice has the potential to negatively impact organizations' bottom lines.

"People aren't at 100% when they're coming in sick, so it's going to show within the work that they do," he told CNBC Make It. "Also, from a monetary standpoint, if you are are coming in sick and you are contagious, you can get someone else sick. That means other people are now starting to use the benefits of the company, and that could drive up benefit premiums."

Barnette said there are several steps employers can take to set a good example for their co-workers and promote healthy workplaces.

"Employers should lead by example. If you're sick, definitely take time off," he said. "Companies are also starting to do more preventative things like having wellness clinics. Some of the clients that we work with will have an onsite flu clinic for people to get flu shots during flu season."

"But I think the biggest thing is for each company to look at their benefits and see what they can do to provide a more welcoming package for people taking sick leave."

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