Many employees go to work sick, at the risk of infecting their colleagues (illustration) - Pixabay

  • The Ministry of Labor published, on August 5, a study on presenteeism, namely the fact "of going to work while thinking that one should have stayed at home because one was sick." "
  • 20 Minutes polled its readers to find out why they had to go to work despite being sick.
  • Loss of salary, judgment of the hierarchy or productivity: the reasons for risking one's health are numerous and often constrained.

"A cold, fever, nausea?" Too bad, I'm still going to work. This is how we could summarize presenteeism. The direction of the animation of research, studies and statistics (Dares) of the Ministry of Labor gives a more exhaustive definition: presenteeism is the fact of going to work while thinking that one should have stayed at home. home because we were sick.

In its study presented on August 5, it estimates at 62% the share of employees who have done at least one day of presenteeism in the year. On average, a quarter of sick days are worked. 20 Minutes questioned its readers to find out the reasons that have already pushed them to presenteeism. They tell.

Lost wages

“I have a plan which imposes three days of waiting [period during which an employee on sick leave receives neither daily allowance nor salary]. If I think it's not too bad, I'll go to work so that I don't lose my salary. As Bastien testifies, the most often cited reason is the loss of wages. The deficiency, today, is set at three days in the private sector, and one day in the public service. “Losing even a day's salary, I can't afford it,” points out Amélie.

If some mutuals or company agreements allow the coverage of waiting days, other income may be affected. For Mark, it is the overtime that is lost, when Sébastien sees the absences "reduce his profit-sharing bonus". If the Dares study does not take this element into account, its author, Ceren Inan, statistician, also hypothesizes a correlation between presenteeism and types of contract. Fixed-term contracts and temporary contracts would be more exposed to presenteeism than permanent contracts, since only the latter sometimes see the days of shortage paid for by the company.

The judgment of superiors and colleagues

Fear of the judgment of others is also a driver of presenteeism. First, that of superiors. According to the study, employees who have bad relations with their hierarchy have a stronger propensity for presenteeism. Perhaps out of fear of being reproached for it later, as Charlène experienced it, present at her post the last time she was ill: “My boss was on leave and no one could replace me. If I hadn't gone to work, I would have been in the throes of it when he got back. I would rather suffer rather than take revenge later. Gabrielle, an employee in a spa hotel, went through the same situation and saw her superiors angry with her after a shutdown: "My employers don't want to hear about illness. We must respect our appointments, regardless of our state of health. "

But the pressure can also sometimes come from colleagues who, in certain circumstances, have to compensate for absences. Audrey testifies to this. Little cold or sore throat, she holds her post: “Absenteeism is frowned upon in the world of work. One is quickly taken for a lazy person. “Especially in jobs where the work is very collective. Ceren Inan explains: “We observe what is called 'peer control' which regulates absences and attendance. In the field of caregivers, this will not be frowned upon, because contamination is avoided. In other sectors, there can be fear of judgment. Audrey hopes, however, that the coronavirus crisis will enable employees to realize the risks of contamination in the workplace.

"I do not want to put my colleagues in the juice"

The risk of contamination is not the priority for some of you, who first think of the workload that will fall on your colleagues in case of absence. "I am a teacher, and if I am not going to work, the inspectorate does not send a replacement, and it is the others who find themselves taking care of the children," says Aude. Amélie, who works in mass distribution, has the same reasoning: “If I don't go to work, it's just as much work for the colleagues. I don't want to put them in the juice. "

Don't be late

And the fear of this additional burden is also found in production. High-intensity jobs, whose productivity is constantly monitored, as well as managers, are particularly targeted by presenteeism. Ceren Inan deciphers: “We notice it a lot in jobs where the work is intense. Employees fear the loss of productivity or delay. This leads to presenteeism. "This is the case of Sylvie, who cut short a sick leave:" If I'm not there, no one is going to do the job for me. I was operated on and arrested for six weeks. It took me six months to make up for the delay. "

Ceren Inan warns of the risks that this pressure can induce: “Studies have linked presenteeism to maintain productivity and exhaustion at work. Anaïs, who holds a position of responsibility in an association, is an example. By dint of going to work despite repeated rhinotracheitis, she developed polyps on the vocal cords: “I had to do months of rehabilitation. "

However, some voices speak out against presenteeism and call for more rest when necessary. These readers have all gone to work sick but swear that they will not be taken back. Amandine, who held her post to relieve her colleagues and superiors despite her pregnancy and gastroenteritis, will not do it again: “I took risks for them and I had neither thanks nor increase. Anne, in a similar situation, finally understood that she was "getting damaged" and eased off. Finally, Charlène, who pushed the plug to the point of fainting at her workstation, learned a lesson: “Let us not forget that we are human, work is not our destiny. You have to know when to stop. "


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  • Coronavirus
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  • Sick leave
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