Working despite illness seems to be a trend of the modern working world. Here the concept of presenteeism neither has a uniform definition nor can consistent action plans be found for dealing with the problem. Still, the phenomenon of presenteeism shows that the sickness as an instrument alone falls short of describing the health of the employees.
Currently, there are two main strands of research that recognize presenteeism: Works from Europe put their focus on the behaviour of employees that to go to work despite illness. These studies examined especially the causes and influence factors of the behaviour as well as its health consequences. From the point of view of health, presenteeism with relatively ill health increases the risk of cardiovascular disease in the long-term. Two studies have suggested a link between presenteeism and long-term disability. But there are also indications that presenteeism can have a positive impact, for example, for certain chronic musculoskeletal disorders.
On the other hand, particularly North American studies concern themselves with the loss of productivity resulting from health problems at work. Since the influence of diseases on productivity has been investigated longer in the U.S., information on the quality of the measurement methods is significantly better. In business terms, the costs of presenteeism are at least as high as the costs of absence due to sickness.
The acquisition of presenteeism, in addition to the absence due to sickness is a desirable and necessary indicator to obtain a comprehensive picture of the health of employees, for company as for the political level. Currently, the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) is consolidating the state of knowledge. With the BiBB/BAuA Employment Survey 2011/12, own data are collected, with the help of which influential factors and causes should be identified. The aim of the research is the policy advice in the subject area of presenteeism for design of framework requirements, as well as the development of recommendations for the corporate level.