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Family Issues Translate Into Sick Days at Work

Employees juggling conflicts have higher absentee rate, research shows

FRIDAY, Aug. 28 (HealthDay News) -- When home and family issues interfere with work, employees take more sick days, a new study has found.

Belgian researchers assessed work-family conflict among nearly 3,000 workers and found that absenteeism was higher for those who reported that problems at home were interfering with work. These employees felt the demands they faced at home made them tired at work.

Workers with high levels of home-work interference were more likely to have at least three sick leave episodes per year and to take 10 or more sick days per year, the study authors found.

Although some workers reported work interference at home, this did not increase use of sick days.

The findings suggest that companies seeking ways to reduce employee absenteeism might want to consider "family-friendly employment policies or specific strategies that enable a better harmony between private and work life, such as flexible work schedules," according to lead study author Els Clays of Ghent University and colleagues.

But more research is needed to assess whether such policies actually reduce sick leave, they noted.

The study appears in the August issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

More information

Mental Health America has more about home and work balance.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, news release, August 2009

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