Job fears keep sick staff at work, poll finds

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 February, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 February, 2003, 12:00am

More than 70 per cent of flu patients have refused to take sick leave from work mostly because of fears they might lose their jobs, according to a survey by Watsons pharmacy.

The remaining 29 per cent, an estimated 540,000 people, who did take days off were responsible for creating a loss of more than one million working days in Hong Kong over the past three months, the company claimed.

The projection is based on a telephone poll of 602 people, aged between 16 and 64, conducted last month.

Based on these statistics, the company has also forecast that about 1.2 million people will suffer from colds or flu over the next two months, a peak season for illness.

Of these people, only about 360,000 are expected to take sick leave.

Although 61 per cent of people agreed cold and flu would undermine their work performance, 68 per cent said they had not taken preventive measures against the disease, such as ensuring they received enough rest and quitting smoking.

Of the 71 per cent of patients who refused to claim sick leave, most of them admitted they had done so because they did not want their work appraisal to be affected as a result.

Watsons Regional Marketing Director Andrew Brent said : 'The study clearly shows that as the economy worsens in Hong Kong, the working class tend to neglect their health, which is bad news for the community.'

The survey showed that 32 per cent of people refused to see a doctor because they were too busy.