Poor hygiene 'costs French economy €14.5bn'

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Joshua Melvin - [email protected]
Poor hygiene 'costs French economy €14.5bn'
Poor Hygiene cost the French economy €14.5 billion last year and germs wiped out a fair amount off the British and German economies too. Photo: Rusty Clark/AFP

Poor personal hygiene cost French companies a staggering €14.5 billion in 2013, according to a new study published this week. The report did not smell much sweeter for British and German companies, which also suffered big losses because of uncleanliness.


The survey will do little to quash the perhaps unfair stereotype of French people not being not the most hygienic of folk. Although it does show that the British and the German workers are in no position to mock their Gallic counterparts.

Poor hygiene cost France €14.5 billion last year with the majority of the lost cash due to the time employees spent mopping up after others or searching for clean toilets, instead of doing their jobs, the study says.

That lost time was the equivalent of 2.3 days per worker, each year, which once totalled up for the whole country is equivalent to a €10.1 billion loss, according to the study from the Centre for Economics and Business Research in combination with cleaning company Rentokil Initial.

The remainder of France's multi-billion euro loss was due to the one sick day each year employees take on average because of poor hygiene. The study noted the French, only 49 percent of whom wash their hand after going to the bathroom, could do a lot better.

"In France, we have a hard time admitting that poor hygiene is a factor linked to illness," Virginia Mallet, head of hygiene company Initial France told French daily Le Figaro. "The simple act of washing one’s hands after going to the toilet is automatic in some countries, but in France we have always underestimated this act.

The most affected jobs are in real estate and the health industry with, respectively,  €3.1 billion and €2.4 billion in losses per year. Education and banking are close behind, while the telecom and high tech industries are less impacted.

"All companies can improve their results by attaching more importance to hygiene. But workers must also understand their own role in doing so, " Mallet added.

France were not the only country where germs wiped out billions of euros.

The United Kingdom was close behind France with €13.7 billion lost to bad hygiene last year, with Germany in third place with €12.6 billions in losses.

The French do have previous when it comes to studies on cleanliness. A 2012 report revealed nearly one fifth of all French people don’t wash every day, with 3.5 percent hopping into the shower just once a week, Time Magazine reported.

It would seem British cleanliness problems are more linked to laundry however. Half a million Brits wash their bedding just three times per year with Londoners being the worst offenders, according to a report in The Telegraph 


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