View Full Version : Why can't sick people stay home?

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02-15-2011, 02:03 AM
I'm a little :mad: and rather :confused: because one of my coworkers elected to come to work today with a raging uncontrollable phlegmy cough. Which would have been relatively okay if it was just a simple cold, but she thinks she got the illness from one of the other grad students was diagnosed with FULL-BLOWN PNEUMONIA two weeks ago and still came to work until she physically was not able to. (We work on the campus of a cancer hospital, and one of the gardeners thought she was one of the patients, she looked THAT ill.)

I only dodged the bullet from the first grad student because my sleep schedule was a$$-backwards and I was coming into work late at night when nobody else was around. :P Today we had a lab meeting where all of us would be together in a single room and I had to literally beg my coworker not to come to that. She sent an email to our boss and he flat out told her not to come. :lol:

Luckily we have a boss who's understanding of this - if you're sick, he doesn't want you in because not only might you infect other people, you might infect the cells we work with. He also believes that if you're not mentally 100%, your work will be poorer and you'll only have to waste more time, energy, and resources doing it again. I think it's the right way to think about it, but it also makes my coworkers' choice to come to work even more befuddling.

I know that she's desperate to finish her thesis, but the rest of us have projects we can't afford to lose time on either! Not to mention spreading a nasty respiratory infection just is not cool even if you're just around strangers.

I just don't get it, especially because both coworkers are kind, generous, delightful people to be around, but their attitude of thinking they aren't going to get other people sick is just bewildering. Luckily I talked some sense into the first student, and she got to see her naivete for herself when she got many people around her sick, including a relative who came to visit. :P

Is it just the American workworkwork mentality that does this or is this pervasive around the world? I know that pushing through illness (or general disability) is admired in our society, but being sick to the point of misery is IMO not admirable. Especially if what you have is a contagious respiratory bug!

Aussie Willy
02-15-2011, 02:18 AM
Not is not just in the US either. However I can see both sides of the story.

If you don't have sick leave entitlements, which here many casual workers don't have, then sometimes you just cannot afford to take time off work. I have been in that position and it is horrible and it is not a choice. You end up really really stressed because it is not just being sick but also because the financial pressure.

On the other hand, if you do have sick leave, use it. My work says if you are sick don't come in. And with the Swine Flu virus they issued a directive about it.

There are also some bosses who make you feel guilty if you do take time off. So you are damned if you do and damned if you don't.

A lot of it depends on the workplace culture.

My mum thinks people who go into work when sick are really selfish and are not thinking of others.

However when you get a cold or flu, aren't you most infectious before you get the symptoms? By the time you get them you are no longer contagious. I am sure there are some medical types here who will know the answer.

02-15-2011, 02:29 AM
People come in sick where I work all the time. My boss is an asshat and claims he never gets sick, and anyone who does is just weak and lazy. If you do call in sick, and even if you take it as an unpaid sick day, he expects you to come in on your day off as a make up shift.

02-15-2011, 02:38 AM
I work for the hospital and we aren't allowed to come into work if we are sick as per hospital directives... but then we get in shyte from the manager about calling in sick. I had Employee Health fighting on my behalf because I was sick with the flu.

For the part time staff, I don't understand the grumblings from management. They do not have to pay for the replacement but do for us full time staff. At least from a financial standpoint, I understand.

When I am sick, I stay home.

02-15-2011, 02:51 AM
I hate making sub plans, and there are very few subs who can actually teach. If I can get off the couch, I'm going to teach.

Thankfully, I'm rarely that sick. I think the kids have infected me with everything, and now I'm immune. :P

02-15-2011, 02:55 AM
It also depends on what kind of work you do; I'm a bookkeeper and sometimes there is a deadline, like payroll, where I have to come in no matter what. At some jobs I had if I didn't come in people wouldn't get paid, or checks wouldn't go out to suppliers on time. I've worked mostly in small offices where I was it, so if I wasn't there, things ground to a halt.

02-15-2011, 03:38 AM
I totally agree with you. If you are sick, stay home! I know I do and it isn't because I am lazy. It is because A) I am SICK and B) I don't want to make others sick. It is the right thing to do. However, I have worked at places where you were not to call in sick unless you were calling from the hospital. It never made sense and they never could understand why the entire office would get sick at the same time. What idiots.

I have also had a job like emason where I was heavily relied upon. One of my last jobs was just myself and my boss. So most of the time I couldn't call in. However, being that it was only the two of us, it wasn't like I was going to pass around my illness to many people. My boss just stayed in his office and I in mine and no one had to worry. I wasn't thrilled to be at work but I wasn't bed ridden so I might as well feel like crap while getting paid...

02-15-2011, 03:43 AM
I got annoyed at my coworker the other day, who came in to work with strep, when it hadn't been 24 hours since she had started her antibiotics yet. Thankfully I didn't catch it...but a couple other people did. She had sick days she could take, so it's inconsiderate.

02-15-2011, 03:51 AM
It also depends on what kind of work you do; I'm a bookkeeper and sometimes there is a deadline, like payroll, where I have to come in no matter what. At some jobs I had if I didn't come in people wouldn't get paid, or checks wouldn't go out to suppliers on time. I've worked mostly in small offices where I was it, so if I wasn't there, things ground to a halt.
Pretty much the only time I get sick is when there is some deadline that can't be moved (payroll, payroll taxes, audit schedules, other filings that can't move). by the time the deadline has passed, I'm starting to feel better :wall:

02-15-2011, 03:52 AM
My boss sends people home. Our staff of 100 can get sick really fast if one infectious member infiltrates our cubicles. But fortunately 1/3 of us can work from home if need be.

On another note....a new rule for schools where I live; it's up to the nurse to send a kid home if a kid gets sent to school when they shouldn't have. Hundreds have been sent home this school year but thousands more didn't miss school because they got sick. My kids have perfect attendance, first time ever!

02-15-2011, 03:53 AM
I had a boss once who told me when I called out with Bronchitis to come in after 6 pm (when he left) to make up the time. I had leave, he just didn't want me out. :wall: He was, however, the person who sent home a coworker who brought in a 'vomit bucket'. :wideeyes: NO ONE is that freaking irreplaceable (especially at an accounting firm). :rolleyes:

At my current job, my boss has been on medical leave 15 out of 24 months. Her first replacement once told me when I was quite ill that "you're not really that bad" and then "do you want me to call you an ambulance or can you make it home?" (and it was quite sarcastic). Later that day, I was diagnosed with cancer. After a visit to our department VP, I had a new person to report to. So, when you're sick, and the only person bringing in money, and having people rely on you, and there's no more time off available because you've used it all on doctor visits, sometimes you work until you can't work any more.

But, I'm all for staying home when you're contagious. Especially in a cancer hospital. :eek:

02-15-2011, 03:55 AM
A lot of it depends on the workplace culture.

Yes. I have paid sick time, but in order for me to call in sick, my workplace must find a substitute for me. And my job is so highly specialized that there are only a few people who can fill in — and then they can't do their regular job. I once called in on a Tuesday and my boss said, "Can you call in tomorrow instead?" :rolleyes: Needless to say, the page layout staff rarely gets to call in sick. :(

At my part-time job (learn to skate teaching), getting a sub is a HUGE PITA, and then I lose out on the $. Luckily, I've taught for long enough that I've probably gotten everything I could from those germy little 5-year-olds.

02-15-2011, 03:57 AM
I think that unfortunately for all the talk that corporate america (and probably anywhere else) that they want a healthy workplace, corporations do everything to prevent that from happening and demand that people come into work sick.
Many policies/barriers are:

if you are sick you need to produce a doctor's note
you can't go to the doctor because you either don't have insurance because it is too expensive or there is a long waiting time for an appointment with your PPO or HMO doctor office
you have only x number of hours/days for PTO, including your vacation hours
you can only call in sick or need unscheduled personal time up to 3 times in a 12 month period. If you call in more than that you are suspended without pay for 2 days and it affects your eligibility for cost of living raises
you have to save your sick days for either your parents' or your children's illnesses or in some cases both

I don't think people want to come to work sick - after all they feel like shite. There are just so many barriers to staying home.

Aussie Willy
02-15-2011, 04:29 AM
So I will ask a question.

How many people here actually get sick leave? If you do how many days do you get? And can you accumulate them each year?

Sorry that was three questions.

Where I am you get 15 days each year (I think 5 are without a certificate) and then what you don't take gets carried over to the next year.

02-15-2011, 04:33 AM
12 sick days per year
15 vacation days per year
4 personal days per year

Sick leave can be carried over, but only up to 90 days.
Vacation leave can carry over up to 30 days. Any more than 30 days will be lost on December 31st
Personal days do not carry over.