Is Australia a nation of workplace martyrs?

by Chloe Taylor21 Apr 2015
In a survey of 818 Australians conducted by OneShift, two in three employees said they felt under pressure to go into work when they were sick.
 
The majority of respondents (57%) said that they ‘felt annoyed’ by colleagues who come into work with an illness, while just 30% found it irritating when their colleagues called in sick – suggesting that most workers are more concerned about unwanted illnesses than an unwanted workload.
 
Gen George, OneShift’s founder and CEO, said that employees’ tendency to attend work when they are under the weather is symptomatic of the rising pressure within modern workplaces.
 
“With workers contactable any time on smartphones via email, texts and social media, we can feel like we’re working a 24 hour work day,” George said. “It can be nearly impossible to just switch off and take the time needed to recover. There is an understandable fear in the workplace around letting the team down or disappointing clients and customers, even though this survey tells us that most people would rather their colleagues rest up and return to work healthy.”
 
George added that employers should be clear on their expectations to reduce pressure and confusion.
 
“Pressure comes from all directions — such as mounting workloads, understaffed teams and looming deadlines – so it’s important that employees have a solid understanding of what the expectations are and what they are entitled to when it comes to sick leave,” she said. “Employers need to take the time to explain what their policies are for sick leave, and in particular, where they stand on working from home when necessary.”
 
Australia’s sick leave policy, which entitles full-time employees to ten days of paid leave, places it behind  the Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Singapore, all of which offer upwards of ten sick days per year.  
 
The US currently has no paid sick leave policy for short-term illness, while German employers must offer at least six weeks paid leave at full salary if a medical certificate is presented. 

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