Half of South Africans can’t afford time off work

Eight in 10 South Africans would continue going to work despite having a cold or flu, according to a Pharma Dynamics survey released on Tuesday.

“South Africans won’t let a cold or flu get the better of them, with eight in 10 determined to go to work even though they’re as sick as a dog,” spokeswoman Mariska van Aswegen said.

In the phenomenon known as “presenteeism”, 48% of respondents said “they just can’t afford to take a day off work due to mounting workloads”; 33% said “they’re just too essential to the business operation”; and 12% “go into work sick hoping they’ll be sent home by the boss”.

Other reasons cited included 17% of respondents saying their employer discouraged them from taking sick leave, or that they got penalised for doing so, while 11% said they feared that they would lose their jobs if they took time off to recover.

The colds and flu medicine provider conducted the online survey by interviewing 1,978 adult working men and women countrywide, between the ages of 18 and 55.

This was done between June and July 2014 this year.

Van Aswegen said “presenteeism” usually led to lower-than-normal productivity levels.

“Studies show that productivity levels only drop to about 28% when employees take sick leave, compared to a much more significant drop of 72% when they show up at work feeling lousy.”

She said “presenteeism” was attributed to “the prolonged economic stagnation”.

“To some, physically showing up at work every day means job security. People want to make sure that they are not forgotten about and want to prove that they are committed to their jobs.”

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Half of South Africans can’t afford time off work