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Business

Pinoys forgoing sick leaves even when mentally unwell

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star
Pinoys forgoing sick leaves even when mentally unwell
The result of the study conducted last June by the consumer research and analytics firm showed 71 percent of respondents in the Philippines chose not to take a sick leave despite not feeling well physically, similar to the overall result for the region.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Most Filipino employees are opting not to go on sick leave even when they are unwell due to high job demands and fear of missing out on opportunities at work, a study conducted by Milieu Insight showed.

The result of the study conducted last June by the consumer research and analytics firm showed 71 percent of respondents in the Philippines chose not to take a sick leave despite not feeling well physically, similar to the overall result for the region.

The study covered 6,000 employees across Southeast Asia including 1,000 from the Philippines.

It revealed that 66 percent of Filipino employees surveyed said they are not taking a sick leave from work even when they were mentally unwell, slightly above the 65 percent average for the region.

In other Southeast Asian countries covered by the study, a majority of employees are not going on sick leave even if they are physically unwell led by Thailand at 83 percent, Singapore at 77 percent, Vietnam at 69 percent, Malaysia at 68 percent, and Indonesia at 59 percent.

All other countries also had more than half of employees surveyed say they were still going to work even when they were mentally unwell with Thailand at 72 percent, Singapore at 67 percent, Malaysia at 65 percent, Vietnam at 64 percent, and Indonesia at 53 percent.

Top reasons cited for choosing not to go on sick leave despite being physically or mentally unwell are having too much work to do with 51 percent, feeling bad about missing work with 36 percent, and worrying about missing out on important decisions or opportunities with 31 percent.

The study also showed that 65 percent of employees in the Philippines believe they should be allowed to take a sick leave when they are mentally unwell, the highest percentage in the region.

This was followed by Vietnam at 61 percent, Singapore and Thailand at 55 percent each, Malaysia at 43 percent, and Indonesia at 42 percent.

While over 60 percent of Filipino employees said they should be able to go on sick leave for their mental health, only 33 percent believe a doctor’s note as proof would need to be presented.

In other Southeast Asian countries, only Malaysia and Indonesia have over 50 percent of employees who said medical certificates should be mandatory when taking a leave for mental health.

“The balance of accountability and discretion has to be found to protect both employers and employees’ interests,” Milieu Insight said.

About 60 percent of those in the Philippines believe that companies should consider the number of sick leaves taken by an employee during performance appraisal.

This view is shared in most Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia at 67 percent, Vietnam at 62 percent, Malaysia at 61 percent, and Thailand at 51 percent.

In Singapore, however, only 34 percent believe companies should consider the number of sick leaves taken in the review of the employee’s performance.

As to when employees would usually return to work after falling sick, the most common response was when they are “almost recovered, but still a little unwell” at 48 percent.

The study found that only 27 percent said they would actually return to work when they are fully recovered.

In contrast, when asked when they think employees should return to work after being sick, 69 percent said they should do so only after they are fully recovered.

Given the disparity between employees’ behavior and expectation when it comes to sick leave, Milieu Insight said there is a need to have a clearer communication between management and employees on sick leave policies.

“At the same time, management needs to be attuned to the company-wide/team cultures to suss out and correct subtle pressures against employees to return to work,” Milieu Insight said.

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