What's better for business... sick employees in the office or at home?

The last weeks of winter always seem to be a time of year when we get run down. If you do feel unwell, you might find yourself in a common dilemma: take some sick leave and get better or push through so you don’t disrupt your workload.



When you're sick it isn’t helpful heading into the office for a few reasons: you can spread your sickness with co-workers; you’re not as productive because you feel unwell; and you may take longer to recover because you aren't allowing your body time to recover. Overall, 'pushing through' can be more costly to your health and business than if you’d just taken a day or two to properly rest.

Research tells us the cost of presenteeism — when employees are at their workplace not fully functioning — is estimated to cost Australian businesses $34 billion each year in lost productivity, particularly because of people coming in sick and infecting other co-workers.

We know that most people are usually considerate and caring of their co-workers and employers, which raises the question: why is presenteeism such a big problem in Australia? The fact remains that deadlines aren’t put on hold just because it’s winter or COVID, and the pressure to meet them (both pressure we put on ourselves and from others) is hard to put aside.


At Job Pair, we hear people often talk about the guilt and worry they experience in taking sick leave and it impacting their colleagues and/or clients. However the impact of going into the office sick is far greater and more costly than taking sick leave.

COVID-19 has made us hyperaware of stopping the spread of germs so heading into work while sick is becoming less and less acceptable. Encouraging your co-workers to stay home when they feel unwell, and to do the same when you are, is an important step to take because in the long run, having a sick day and resting well is the best possible way to get back to feeling well and being productive.


Sick leave is given for a reason. It's far less costly to business keeping your germs to yourself than coming into work sick, unproductive and spreading illness around the workplace.

We’d love to hear what you think. Let us know what you do when you're sick. Do you take leave or keep working? And which do you think is productive for you?