"Presenteeism" - How The Pandemic Has Eliminated Sick Days

"Presenteeism" - How The Pandemic Has Eliminated Sick Days

Before the pandemic, people would either show up to work sick or take a sick day. Since the pandemic, people haven't been given the opportunity to show up sick in the workplace. The smallest sneeze or cough could send everyone in your office running for cover. But, while the pandemic almost eliminated people working in the office while sick, it also nearly eliminated sick days. Learn more about how things have changed and what it means for you.

Presenteeism and Covid

As soon as people became aware of the symptoms of covid, workplace policies changed. You could no longer show up to work with a cough or sneeze. In fact, people with allergies ended up digging into their sick time.

This didn't last for long. For the sake of productivity, employers allowed their sick employees to work from home. In some cases, they were home for a quarantine period. At other times, it was only for a day or two.

Either way, people were able to work from home without using up sick time. With that said, employees still felt as if they had to show up for work if conditions weren't covid-related. It almost became more common for people to work through their sickness. Whether working from home or in the office, individuals pushed through their symptoms and got the job done.

Too Much Pride in Presenteeism

Part of the issue is from the pride in presenteeism. For years, employees have been bragging about their lack of absences. They see taking no sick time as a badge of honor, and employers sometimes reinforce this by rewarding the lack of absences.

This sense of pride isn't necessary. In fact, there are much better ways to measure workplace performance than looking at how many sick days you used. It's essential to stop focusing on work while you're sick and to focus more on your physical and mental health.

What Does It Mean?

You could argue that the ability to work from home while sick is a good thing. After all, you use up less sick time. Unfortunately, there's a negative consequence to this. People end up working from home when they should be resting.

In the years pre-Covid, employers across the country expanded their sick policies. They began to realize that employees needed time to recover from illnesses, or their performance would suffer. But now, people aren't recovering. They're working from home and not giving their bodies enough time to get well.

And so, working from home while you're sick comes at a cost. You may not fully recover from your sickness, or you could have a weak immune system and catch something else. Although your employer might appreciate you working through your illness, they won't appreciate you being in the hospital for weeks or being unable to finish your work.

Improving the Situation

Some employers are trying to improve the situation. For one, they are using more reliable systems for tracking sick time. They're also more aware of the need to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act, which dictates that non-exempt workers must relieve pay for working more than 40 hours.

Why is this so important? With people working from home, they tend to be working longer hours. But they're not necessarily receiving pay for those hours. This is to the detriment of both the employee and the employer. Overworked and dissatisfied employees result in low productivity.

It's worth mentioning that there are federal laws in place to protect employees. According to the Family and Medical Leave Act, employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for health conditions or to care for a sick family member.

How to Find a Better Balance

Employees and employers can work together to find a better way to deal with sick time. As an employee, you can take advantage of expanded sick policies. You should look into the current policies and find out if you're able to take a day off to go to the doctor or to care for a sick child.

If your company doesn't have a fair sick policy, it might be a good time to discuss it with your boss. They may not have thought to update policies to reflect the current situation.

Listen to Your Body

Ultimately, it's up to you to listen to your body. If you feel sick, take the day off. And it's not just about physical ailments; it's about mental ailments as well. When your mental health suffers, your work suffers. You would serve yourself and your employer better if you would take time off when you need it.

The major consequence is burnout, and it's enough to destroy your career. If you don't take time to get well, you could end up getting fired or quitting your job. By using your time off, you have a chance to recover and return to work with renewed energy.

Limit Your Hours

If you are working from home while you recover, don't overwork yourself. While you could work through meals and after hours, there's no reason to. Set strict hours for yourself and keep track of your hours.

This may be difficult because some employees take multiple breaks when they work from home. If you're not used to working remotely, you might


If you're not communicating well with your supervisor or manager, you'll end up with problems. It's essential to tell your employer when you need a day off, or to explain that you feel burnt out. When you don't communicate your problems and feelings, you make it impossible for an employer to help you.

Think of it this way. If an employer doesn't know there's a problem, they can't help. When you're feeling overloaded or sick, don't internalize your struggles. Schedule a meeting with your manager and discuss your concerns.

Apply for a New Job When Necessary

If your employer has a sick policy that doesn't work for you or they overwork you, it may be time for a new job. Start looking and send out your resume!

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