Presenteeism In Switzerland's World Of Work

Author:Dr. Thomas Rihm
Profession:Rihm Attorneys
 
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Introduction

Presenteeism is the practice whereby employees work even though they are ill and should be taking care of themselves. There are many reasons why employees choose to work when they are ill, including the fear that they will be unable to cope with the work otherwise or that their sickness will negatively affect them in their employers' eyes and may even cause them to lose their jobs. Presenteeism can be driven by the state of an employee's working environment. For example, if superiors have excessive performance expectations this can have a negative effect on employees. Moreover, if no substitution rules or procedures exist, an employee may come into work in order to not burden their co-workers with additional work. However, presenteeism arguably helps no one; it negatively affects the sick employee, their co-workers, the employer and the company as a whole.

Negative health effects

Those who work even though they are unable to may prevent or delay their recovery, which can worsen their current health condition and lead to chronic conditions or other serious health problems. Moreover, this results in a renewed and prolonged incapacity to work. Sick employees are also less productive at work and achieve lower-quality results, which leads to mistakes and the risk of accidents in the workplace. Further, if employees suffer from infectious diseases, their behaviour endangers other employees with whom they come into contact. Studies have shown that the cost of presenteeism on employers is much greater than the cost of unjustified absenteeism. Both employers and employees should prevent and refrain from presenteeism.

Employers' duty of care

Employers' duty of care means that they must grant protection and care to individual employees. An employee's superiors are also responsible for this. In particular, an employee's life, health and physical and mental integrity affect their personal surroundings and work. The duties to protect health include all measures which are necessary for this purpose - in particular, ensuring that workplace operating conditions are appropriate.

Employers must make every reasonable contribution to ensure that a sick employee recovers and becomes fit to work again before continuing their employment and prevent anything that stands in the way of this goal.

This includes instructing employees that if they are unable to work they must remain at home to recover and cannot work therefrom. In addition, employers must...

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