Brussels, (Brussels Morning)- The number of people who always work despite illness rose by 41 percent last year, to 14.2 percent or one in seven employees. This is apparent from a study by HR service provider Securex among 1,500 employees in the autumn of 2021. In 2019, before the corona crisis, this was still one in ten employees.
According to the survey, 54.8 percent of Belgian employees were sick for at least one day or had a private accident during the 12 months prior to the survey. They continued to work during more than a third of their sick days (37.8 percent), an increase of 11.4 percent compared to 2019. And “structural presenteeism”, where sick employees systematically do not submit a sick note but still work (tele) , saw an even stronger increase.
“Working when you are sick is in itself neither bad nor good. Rest and work can both contribute to a quick recovery, depending on the specific medical and professional situation. Structural presenteeism, however, is detrimental to the health of employees. They often do not recover. completely, which increases the risk of burnout or other medical problems,” says BRUZZ.
For example, 36.6 percent of the surveyed employees who continue to work during illness suffered from psychological problems and depression in the 12 months before the survey, compared to 16.2 percent of employees who never work when they are sick. In addition, more than half (53.5 percent) of those who work all the time complain of muscle, joint and bone problems, compared to 31 percent of employees who never work while sick.
Employers must therefore provide a framework in which employees themselves make the right choice whether or not to continue working in the event of illness, without implicitly or explicitly imposing this, according to Securex.
The study identified three main reasons why sick employees continue to work: they feel able to work, they don’t want to burden their colleagues, and they are sufficiently motivated to work.
“The increase in telework due to the coronavirus has prompted more sick working,” adds Verlinden. In addition, the increased workload caused by corona has increased both structural presenteeism and the risk of burnout.