A new poll conducted by NPR has found that a majority of workers in public-facing jobs still go to work if they have a cold or the flu.
In specific, the study found that half of restaurant workers and more than half of workers in medical jobs, said they go to work all or most of the time when sick.
This finding is concerning, as people in these types of roles tend to have a lot of human contact. Sharing space or items with such people can lead to further illness or disease.
However, amongst experts, the discovery that people go to work sick is nothing new. Kirk Smith of the Minnesota Department of Health commented, "It's one of the biggest food safety problems that there is, and we've known about it forever."
Despite the known dangers, it’s very difficult to get people to stay home when they’re ill.
When it comes to food handling, one of the more dangerous illnesses is norovirus. It is said to be responsible for 35 percent of cases of foodborne illness.
Norovirus is extremely contagious, and takes very little exposure to be affected. It can jump from surface to surface, and high concentrations of bleach are needed to kill it.
Just last winter, a single contagious employee at a Chipotle in Boston made over 140 people sick.
Oftentimes, a lack of sick leave makes employees decide to work. Like everyone else, they need to pay their bills.
Being afraid of being fired or backlash from coworkers also contributes to employees deciding to work when sick.
On a final note, NPR’s study found that those in lower-paying jobs are somewhat more likely to not call in sick, but it’s prevalent across the board.