Sick at Work

Shawnee Love   •  
October 3, 2013

Research has recently come out and shown that employees in the public sector get sick more than employees in the private sector. Why is that?

Purely speculation on my part, but I suspect there is more than one factor at play.  Here are some of the likely contributing factors:

  • Public sector employees actually get sick more.  Maybe because they are in jobs that come into contact with more germs in their job (e..g, hospitals and schools are public sector).  Maybe because their workplaces are more toxic (i.e., psychologically unwell, not actually toxic because public sector employers are scrutinized on their standards relating to chemicals in the workplace).
  • Public sector employees use the days because they have them.  They see it as entitlement or a right, not a perk like most private sector employees come to expect.
  • Private sector employees go to work sick more often.  Public sector employers campaign against coming to work sick (they don’t want the liability of spreading germs and many serve more fragile populations).  But in the private sector it can be a bragging right to get the job done with a fever of 101!  Traditionally, private sector employers also run far leaner and thus employees may come to work sick rather than let their job pile up because there is no one else to do it.
  • More women work in the public sector than the private sector and it is often women who do the emergency care of kids and parents.  They may be calling in sick (remember the public sector is more likely to offer paid sick days) rather than taking an unpaid compassionate care day.

I would love to hear what you think.  Comment below or contribute via our poll.

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