A presentee is someone who is at work, but due to stress, or a debilitating condition, is unable to function effectively. This is rather like a soldier being able to stand in the trench and hold the gun, though unable to fire it to save his life.
Organisations that adopt draconian absenteeism policies, “three strikes and you are out”, have high levels of presentees. Staff members who fear dismissal will attend work in highly infectious and disabled states of health so that they are “in” on the roll call. Cary Cooper’s work suggests that presentees get in the way of the organisation and reduce the effectiveness of a team and inhibit the function of management.