Sick or lazy?

Sep 03 2007 by Print This Article

Now there's a new excuse for persistently not showing up for work (to go with such classics as "my dog ate the car keys"). According to German researchers, persistent absenteeism could be a symptom of work phobia.

As the Daily Telegraph reported last week, the research claims that "work-related phobia is an anxiety disorder but because it can occur in people who do not suffer from general anxiety disorders it is different."

Or course, critics of the findings and the study say this is just inventing a medical excuse for "skivers."

One of the professors involved in the study, Michael Linden, says that he believes one in ever two workers who are on long-term sick leave will eventually show signs of work-related anxiety. Linden is preparing to present his findings to the World Congress on Psychosomatic Medicine in Canada.

He added that the symptoms look similar to other anxiety disorders: "Job anxieties can present in the form of panic, hypochondriac fears, work-related worrying, post-traumatic stress, or work-related social anxieties."

According to Linden, these disorders will often lead to work avoidance and frequent requests for sick leave. So, in other words, it can cost a company a lot of money in lost time and sick leave pay.

So, the next time that employee asks for time off, before you decide whether or not they are just being lazy, ask yourself whether that it may be something more. Could they have some kind of mental disorder? Could the workplace, in fact, be making them mentally ill?