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Presenteeism is a term used to describe those who present to work (as an employee) while unwell. As a Registered Nurse/Midwife this has the potential to impact not only on your colleagues but also your patients/clients. It can also worsen/prolong your illness. Often Nurses/Midwives feel pressured to attend work despite Australia having sick leave built into our employment awards, due to a sense of duty to our workplace and not wanting to let anyone down. Cases have been reported where staff have presented to work unwell due to difficulties in meeting requirements to access appropriate sick leave such as obtaining medical certificates.
In this essay you are to discuss the legal and ethical aspects of presenteeism including barriers and enablers to accessing sick leave.
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Presenteeism refers to the condition when an employee is forced to attend the professional duties at the workplace despite the existence of a medical ailment at any point of time (Widera, et al.2010). Indeed, presenteeism proves to be the biggest problem for workers when they partially accomplish their job requirements in accordance with the statutes of the law under the influence of pathophysiological manifestations. Presenteeism is not always a matter of enforcement on the employees, and sometimes they take their own decision regarding attending the workplace despite sickness due to numerous reasons. The chronic conditions including diabetes, depression, arthritis and allergies experienced by the healthcare staff considerably decrease their work capacity and increases the risk of the patient population in terms of experiencing trauma and symptoms because of decreased assistance and care by the healthcare staff (Widera et al. 2010). Nurse professionals and midwives affected with the pattern of acute contagious conditions prove to be a significant health risk to the treated patients and elevate their scope of acquiring infectious conditions across the hospital environment (Widera et al. 2010). The nurse professionals in accordance with the Workplace Relations Act (1996) lose their leaves entitlement in case they do not attend the workplace at any point of time during regular working hours (AIRC, 2005). Nurse professionals at times need to attend the work premises despite being ill in lieu of financial incentives that they obtain while serving critical patient conditions in the absence of adequate staff (Widera et al. 2010). This rationally indicates the requirement of systematic amendments in the Australian policies and conventions related to the utilization of paid sick leaves of the healthcare teams. This essay effectively discusses the concept of presenteeism, its legal and ethical implications, barriers and enablers for the nurse professionals and midwives in real-time scenarios. The relevant Australian legislative policies and conventions related to presenteeism effectively discussed for evaluating the scope of their modification in the context of enhancing the safety of treated patients while restraining the medically ill members of the healthcare teams in terms of accomplishing their hospital duties and obligations.
The evidence-based findings by (Zakrzewska 2014) reveal the increased scope of execution of mistakes and distraction of the sick employees at the workplace. The statistical analysis reveals the increased cost incurred because of presenteeism that rationally supersedes the cost incurred due to the pattern of absenteeism practised by the nursing teams (Zakrzewska 2014). The findings by (Mitchell & Bates 2011) reveal the high loss in productivity of the healthcare employees resulting from their health-related complications and risks. Indeed, employers force nurse employees in terms of attending their duties despite medical illness with the objective of overcoming the potential loss in productivity. However, the inefficiency of sick nurses at workplace fails to effectively accomplish this loss in productivity leading to the significant increase in healthcare cost of the treated patients. The nurse professionals associated with the emergency ward face difficulties in accessing the sick leaves due to the requirement of assisting the patient population affected with the state of a medical emergency (Mahmoudi et al. 2013). The requirement of administering qualitative healthcare services in the with limited nursing staff forces the hospital management in terms of configuring policies and conventions for restraining the nurse professionals in terms of attending the workplace despite experiencing sickness or health issues. The stress of losing the job and facing trouble at workplace forces the nurse professionals in terms of attending their regular shifts while ignoring the health issues and associated complications. The most common enablers affecting the work efficiency of nurse professionals affected with presenteeism include the pattern of depression, mental health problems and musculoskeletal pain (Letvak et al. 2012).