A shocking number of Americans say they “always” come to work sick

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Among the modern office’s many irritants, one of the most abrasive is the employee who comes to work sneezing, coughing, and sniffling – or worse. In fact, this behavior is so common that a recent survey from global staffing firm Accountemps found that 90% of employees have come into work sick.

It gets worse – of that 90%, a third (33%) said they always go to work when they’re ill. A 2010 study from the University of California at San Francisco dubbed presenteeism not just an annoyance, but a public health hazard.

Excuses, excuses

So why work when you’re under the weather?

  • 54% said they drag themselves in because they have too much to do
  • 40% said they don’t want to use their sick time (um, that’s what it’s for!) In related news, if you don’t have enough sick days, it’s been found that paid sick days improve public health, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families.
  • 34% said pressure from the employer to be present
  • 25% said because their coworkers did it, too

An employee’s age affects whether he or she will show up sick or not. Millennials are most likely to report always coming to work indisposed at 39%, while all other age groups reported working while unwell around just over 25%.

“Whether it’s due to large workloads, pressure from the boss, or because they can’t afford to take time off, it’s all too common for employees to come to the office feeling sick when they really should be resting,” said Michael Steinitz, senior executive director of Accountemps, a division of Robert Half, in a press release.

Steinitz added that managers should set the example by staying home when they’re sick themselves, making it culturally acceptable for their employees to do the same, and offering work-from-home options for employees with mild conditions.