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Why you shouldn’t go to work while you’re sick

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In many companies, it’s a badge of honor to go to work sick. Only about 16 percent of U.S. employees use all of their paid sick leave each year, according to a report by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. About 45 percent of employees use only some of their sick leave and 32 percent don’t take any sick leave at all! Here’s why taking at least a day off when you have a cold or flu is so important:

1. You’ll get everyone else sick. You may be in good shape and able to shake off symptoms quickly, but consider how many people you encounter during a work day — and how many of those people have small children, babies or older parents they don’t want to infect.

2. You may be sick longer. When you are sick, you need rest and sleep to recover. Masking your symptoms with cold medicine and going to work can extend your recovery. Studies also show that high levels of stress — what you often experience when going to work while you’re sick — can make it harder to kick a cold or the flu.

3. You won’t be very productive. Studies show that when you go to work sick, your productivity can be compromised by 20 to 40 percent, meaning you are prone to making mistakes.

Take the time to rest and recover from a cold or flu. And if you’re a manager, make sure your employees understand that they should do the same.