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  1. #1
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    Why can't sick people stay home?

    I'm a little and rather 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. 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.

    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.

    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!

  2. #2

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    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.
    Last edited by Aussie Willy; 02-15-2011 at 03:33 AM.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

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    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.

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    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.
    ~I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.~ (Charles R. Swindoll)

  5. #5

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    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.

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    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.

  7. #7

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    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...
    -Brian
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    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.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by emason View Post
    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
    Q: Why can't I read the competition threads?
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  10. #10
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    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!

  11. #11
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    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. He was, however, the person who sent home a coworker who brought in a 'vomit bucket'. NO ONE is that freaking irreplaceable (especially at an accounting firm).

    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.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie Willy View Post
    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?" 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.

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    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.

  14. #14

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    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.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

  15. #15
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    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.

  16. #16

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    We are allowed 4 sick occurences per year. You can call in for up to 4 days per each occurence but if calling in for the 5th day, you must produce a doctors note.

    However, AFTER those 4 occurences are used up, each subsequent sick occurence, you do not get paid for the initial day, but will for subsequent days.

    From an HR standpoint, I just don't get it. I had to use one sick occurence already this year when I had that stomach flu. Because my immune system went to the crapper...literally... I got a cold right after the flu. Luckily, the 2st couple days I was already off, but I still have a chronic cough from that cold.

    Our sick occurences do not get carried over. You don't use them, then too bad. But then, who really wants to be sick?

    Every 6 weeks is a drop week for me (a week off), I get 4 weeks vacation and 4 lieu days on top of that.
    ~I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.~ (Charles R. Swindoll)

  17. #17
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    I get 5 sick days and 10 days PTO, I can use any day for any reason they are not picky but if I don't use it by the end of the year I lose it and if I use more I don't get paid.

    We do get paid for unused PTO but only at 1/2 pay.

    I'm happy my company is pretty flexible though.

  18. #18

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    I've been guilty of going in to work sick (not deathly, but enough to not feel well). And the reason is because my last boss made me feel really guilty about calling in, and I'm a push over. But then she turns around and tells everyone that if they're sick, don't come to work. Make up your mind!

    As for sick time, at my last job, it started out as about 5 sick days a year & 14 days vacation. But a few years ago, they basically combined them into one PTO account, which sucked because the accrual rate went way down, and we ended up with just 14 days PTO a year. So if you got sick, there goes a week of vacation time.

  19. #19
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    We have PTO that covers regular sick days (up to 5 a year until you get a talking to) and vacation, combined; but we do have extended illness leave, for surgery, serious illness, etc, that accrues at a lower rate and you can't use it without corporate approval.

    considering we're a hospital, you would think they would want sick employees to stay home; uh, nope. Unless you have a doctor's note stating you have Ebola, and are bleeding out of your eyelids, you'd better get yer ass there. I had to call out 2 days with the severe vertigo that had me basically crawling to the bathroom rather than walking; on the second day, a Saturday, I was forced by my manager to come in to our ER to be seen and have a doctor's excuse for the sick call (even though our HR policy doesn't require a doc note until sick day #3)
    I am free of all prejudices. I hate everyone equally.~W. C. Fields

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by numbers123 View Post
    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.
    That's the thing that gets me - the first grad student had every excuse to NOT come into work. Not only was she seriously ill, she's a single mother to two young children and I'm sure she would have appreciated having a little time at home not worrying about having to go anywhere! And as I mentioned, my boss is really lenient about letting you stay home if you're sick. Absolutely no excuse at all. I have no idea what went through her head going to classes AND work that ill. She says she had to leave the room several times each class period so she wouldn't disrupt the class with her coughing, but everybody could hear it outside anyway. And a number of people who sat next to her in class haven't been there in the past few days.

    I honestly think it never occurred to her that she could be that dangerous around other people. Even her mom told her to stay home so she wouldn't get other people sick, but she said she'd be careful and wash her hands often and only cough into her sleeve, etc. Apparently wasn't enough.

    She's also the kind of person who kind of goes nuts if she goes outside her normal routine, so if she stayed at home sick for an entire week she'd probably feel extremely guilty about it. Despite all the obvious signs that she had to take care of herself.

    Hopefully she's learned her lesson now that she's cut a giant swath of respiratory infectious carnage across her social circle.

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