05 July 2019

Are South Africans too afraid and stressed to take sick leave?

Is there a collective fear of taking time off to rest and recover? Health24 took to the streets to find out.

If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, then what keeps sick employees away from work? Not much, as it appears that most people will go to work even though they don't feel well.

A survey revealed that 80% of South Africans go to work despite having a cold or flu. Although this seems relatively acceptable, it is a fact that people are most infectious and/or contagious during the first 48 hours of a viral illness, when symptoms have not yet appeared.

Not taking sick leave affects productivity

According to a study done by NSF International, reasons for taking off sick range from genuine illness to high job demands and a heavy workload, but insecurity and the fear of losing one's job tend to discourage people from staying at home. 

It was, however, discovered that it actually costs employers twice as much in loss of productivity when employees came to work sick compared to when they take off time to recover. This is because employees are not productive and efficient when they come to work sick.

Mental health and period leave

Furthermore, with the increase in mental health awareness, it has become more acceptable for employees to stay at home and take mental health days if they're not in the right state of mind to work, as work stress can have a further negative impact on mental and physical health.  

Similarly, the stigma around staying at home because of severe menstrual cramps is rapidly disappearing as period leave is becoming an accepted reason for taking time off work. 

Image: Supplied


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