Covid-19: why presenteeism at work could amplify the epidemic

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On August 5, the Directorate for the Animation of Research, Studies and Statistics (DARES) published a new survey on presenteeism. This tendency is to go to work weakened. On average, French employees declared eleven days of sick leave in 2016. During this period, employees were absent for at least eight days. For the past three days, they admitted to going to work without being fully healed.

In France, cases of Covid-19 have been increasing again for several weeks. Presenteeism in companies could promote the spread of the virus nationwide. If employees continue to go to work while still sick, they could infect other people. “According to various studies, this practice has on average the effect of worsening the health problems of employees and increasing, in the medium and long term, the number of absences for health reasons. Presenteeism is therefore costly for the community “, explained those responsible for the study.

In France, executives and seniors are very prone to presenteeism

According to the survey, published on the website of the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Integration, France is one of the first countries in Europe to be affected by the phenomenon of presenteeism. Nearly 62% of French employees had already practiced presenteeism in 2015 compared to 42% of employees across the European Union.

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Research findings have shown that women are the most likely to be presentee (3.4 points higher than men). Regarding socio-professional categories, managers are the most affected by this phenomenon. Seniors aged around 60 are those who return to work the most, always being sick compared to employees under 30.

Covid-19: presenteeism a risk for the spread of the epidemic?

According to investigators, working conditions also encourage presenteeism. When the employee is subjected to time pressures or at an intense pace, he is more likely to return to work before the end of his sick leave. A bad understanding with his hierarchy and the absence of a work group also favor this type of behavior.

In France, several clusters have been identified in private and public companies. In an opinion, dated July 27, the Scientific Council fears the return of a second epidemic wave for the fall. The phenomenon of presenteeism could therefore contribute to the rapid spread of the virus.

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