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Workplace illnesses range from flu to bad hair dye jobs

As the weather changes, the possibility of calling in sick at work increases because of flu season. However, workplace illnesses account for only two-thirds of sick days in the office. North Carolina employees may be surprised to hear the rest of the reasons, ranging from absurd to unbelievable, such as a toe stuck in the faucet or hair turning orange in a home dye job.

Altogether, employees take approximately 2.8 million unplanned days off from work. These are separate from personal days and vacations. These absences cost billions of dollars in lost productivity, with a quarter of an employer's payroll being paid for time they weren't at work, whether planned or unplanned.

The cost to employers may be the reason employers have begun checking up on employees who have called in sick. Some employers require a doctor's note, whereas some have gone as far as to drive by a sick employee's house.

However, there are some mental health professionals who believe that taking time off from a stressful job is a good thing. Employees who come to work but are unable to work properly, because of emotional or physical distractions, can also cost an organization money and may make the workplace even more unsafe by their very presence.

"Mental health days" can allow workers to wind down from stressful workplaces. According to a leadership counselor, employers should reassess the culture of their workplace if too many employees are taking unplanned time off.

Employers should create a safe working environment for their employees, both physically and mentally. Whether the illness stems from job stress or exposure to toxins, North Carolina workers becoming ill due to their job may be able to file a workers compensation claim to recover expenses for medical treatment and time off from work.

Source: Kansas City Star, "Illness isn't behind all sick days taken from work," Diane Stafford, Oct. 16, 2012

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