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Workplace Health Saf. 2014 Aug;62(8):318-24. doi: 10.3928/21650799-20140708-03. Epub 2014 Aug 5.

The decision-making process of workers in using sick time.


The cost of employee absenteeism in the United States is significant in terms of sick pay, overtime costs, replacement personnel compensation, and lost productivity. Little is known about what workers consider when deciding to use sick time. Previous studies have examined work absence from an array of perspectives, including resulting work strain, job satisfaction, and job security, but absenteeism in the workplace has not been examined in terms of decision making. To scrutinize workers' decisions about using sick time, a descriptive pilot study was undertaken with a convenience sample (n = 94) of working college students. The responses to the survey revealed that the majority of the workers (73.4%) used sick time because they were too ill to work. These results are in direct opposition to previous research and suggest that workers may need education about preventing and managing minor illnesses before an absence is needed. Supporting and engaging employees and their significant others in healthy worker programs, regular surveillance examinations, and illness prevention strategies are wise investments in companies' financial futures. Future research should include a comparative study of worker absenteeism between worksites with occupational health nurses and those without nurses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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