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Presenteeism is a term coined by economists to describe the practice of employees who come to work even though they are sick and thus exhibit decreased productivity and risk spreading the infection in the workplace. Researchers have estimated presenteeism costs U.S. employers over $150 billion annually. 

Presenteeism can be the result of company’s efforts to combat absenteeism through policies which make it more difficult to take sick leave. Presenteeism can also result from poor health insurance or lack of health insurance coverage because if employees cannot afford medical care, they will not have access to treatment which could enable them to function more effectively at work and they may spend more time sick.

[Last updated in July of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]