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Medicine Science

Stay Home When You're Sick! 670

Posted by Soulskill
from the health-is-a-team-game dept.
theodp writes "If you've got Google CEO Larry Page's billions, you can reduce your chances of getting sick this winter by personally providing free flu shots to all San Francisco Bay Area kids at Target pharmacies. 'Vaccinating children,' explains the Shoo the Flu initiative's website, 'will not only improve children's health, it will also dramatically reduce the risk of the flu spreading to adults.' But Tim Olshansky doesn't have Page's money, so he'll have to settle for trying to get it through people's thick heads that they really have to stay home when they're sick. 'Why do people still come to the office when they're coughing up a lung?' asks the exasperated Olshansky. 'Because unfortunately, there is a still a strong perverse culture that equates staying at home when sick with weakness. This is a flawed belief and should be questioned. Given that we have the tools now to complete most tasks from home, there is no strong reason to compel people to come to the workplace.' So, does your employer encourage employees to stay home when they're sick? How?"
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Stay Home When You're Sick!

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  • Uh, nice try (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:17AM (#42215145)

    So, basically, stay home, but keep working? Remember when sick days were to allow you to actually rest?

  • by fustakrakich (1673220) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:18AM (#42215151) Journal

    By firing us if we don't show up to work!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:18AM (#42215157)

    It's not the sign of weakness that keeps people coming in, it's the threat of being fired. Some employers are really good about giving sick days (and bless them), but some bosses I have worked for took the line that "you come in, or else". Given the choice between spreading a cold around the office or losing my job, guess which option I took?

  • Sick leaves (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aepervius (535155) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:19AM (#42215163)
    Aren't in the US sick leaves taken from your holiday ? You might then have your response right there. Because in europe they are not, and you are quite encouraged (at least in my firm) to take the day off when you are a virus mothership spreading thema round coughing.
  • Wasting Sick days (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bagboy (630125) <neo@arcti c . net> on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:19AM (#42215167)
    I'd say most people with the common chest/head cold don't want to waste their sick days for something less severe. If I'm hung over, puking up a lung and have a freight train driving through my head - then yes, it's time to use a sick day!
  • by Scutter (18425) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:19AM (#42215171) Journal

    "Because unfortunately, there is a still a strong perverse culture that equates staying at home when sick with weakness. This is a flawed belief and should be questioned."

    That's not it at all. People still go to work when they're sick because:

    A: They don't want to use up sick days unless they absolutely have to because if they get sick without having any time left, they don't get paid
    B: Some employers equate staying home sick with "not being a team player" (or some variant thereof) and will actively discourage any time off unless forced

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:23AM (#42215215)

    What the hell is it with people thinking that people actually want to go to work when they're sick?

    They have to because they only have so many sick days and, being unable to control how many days per year they'll be sick, it's only smart to save the things until they're desperately needed. Otherwise you end up vomiting one day and have to cut into your vacation time by taking a vacation day. Wonderful vacation there, staying home vomiting all day long.

    Also, don't forget that employers hate it when their employees aren't at work. "You're sick? Fuck you, get your ass in here and earn me some money. I'll be sure not to give you such a large share of it that you can even afford to think about not coming in to work when you're sick, you selfish bastard. Worship my job-creating awesomeness!"

    People go to work when they're sick because they don't have a choice. Same reason they drive to work even after some unavoidable event kept them awake all night.

  • Policy change (Score:5, Insightful)

    by boristdog (133725) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:24AM (#42215229)

    My company used to have a policy of "stay home when you are sick" and didn't force you to use vacation leave when you were sick. You just called in sick and that was it. And the company did fine. Sure, a few people abused it, but that happens with any benefit.

    Then they changed the policy so that sick time came out of your vacation. Now people show up to work sick all the time.

    Stupid, I tell you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:24AM (#42215235)

    Indeed, it's not about appearing weak, it's about being terminated.

    And this includes hospital nurses. Seriously, you want to see a group of people working when they shouldn't, go to your local hospital.

  • Re:Sick leaves (Score:3, Insightful)

    by angryfirelord (1082111) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:25AM (#42215245)
    Exactly. Until vacation time is put into law as a mandatory requirement, then people will come in when they're sick in order to ration the few days that they have off. Employers will only give the bare minimum that doesn't make them too unattractive to employees and most employers lump vacation time with sick time.
  • by LoRdTAW (99712) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:29AM (#42215279)

    I had the flu a few years back, took 2 weeks to shake it. My work only allots 5 days for sick leave per year. After that its either take vacation days to be compensated or take unpaid leave. I took a few sick days for the worst of it and then sucked it up the following week and just came in to work. I did not want to cut into my vacation time. Call me selfish but that's that way its is. And I doubt I spread it because I always wash my hands, keep away from the coffee pot and sit in a cubical. Thankfully i don't get sick very often.

  • by msk (6205) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:29AM (#42215291)

    It's high time for the creators and enforcers of policies like this to be held liable for endangering the public.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:30AM (#42215301)

    You're missing C: Many employers don't give sick days anymore, and require people to use their vacation time. I haven't had separate paid sick days for over a decade, and with limited vacation time I can't afford to stay home unless I'm simply incapable of going to work...

  • by Eunuchswear (210685) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:31AM (#42215321) Journal

    Take two, you'll feel better in the morning.

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:35AM (#42215383) Homepage

    This is simply a side effect of the anti-labor mentality that has been encouraged in the US since the 80s. Corporations are people and they are expected to be as crass as possible. The needs of the individual are irrelevant. It's only corporations that matter. You should feel lucky that some "job creator" allows you to be employed. You should be happy to be exploited with impugnity and without recourse.

    Sick days? That's a commie anarchist idea.

    This is the new Guilded Age. Get back to work.

  • by Coisiche (2000870) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:35AM (#42215397)

    I wonder if there is a study on the rate of definite infection by disease among those in an open-plan office space versus those in a personal office.

    It might be that those promoting a "come in, or else" policy might be relatively unlikely to personally suffer any consequence of it.

  • by wisnoskij (1206448) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:38AM (#42215429) Homepage

    From what I understand contagion and symptoms are not really linked.
    In many cases you are most contagious before you even know you are sick, in others you are still very contagious after you recover completely. It depends on the specific illness.

    Staying home when you feel bad is about not working when you physically cannot work and not really very good at all at stopping the spread of these illnesses.

    Now personally, I like working when I am sick. I would rather work when I am sick and have time off while I am healthy. But that depends a lot on the nature and severity of the illness, as well as the job.

  • by Cro Magnon (467622) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:40AM (#42215473) Homepage Journal

    I've always thought that a supervisor who insists that a sick employee come to work should talk to the employee in person. In close quarters. After they recover, maybe they'll be more generous with sick time.

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:43AM (#42215513) Homepage Journal

    Don;t forget C: corporate policies combining sick and vacation days, with typical American piddly vacation.

    No one wants to work on christmas eve because they got sick earlier in the year.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:45AM (#42215553)

    I take it you've never been vomited on.

  • by who_stole_my_kidneys (1956012) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:46AM (#42215557)
    Some people literally cant afford to be sick, I.E. you don't work you don't get paid.

    I've known people to get bad yearly reviews because they used too much sick time.

    I've known people to not get promotions specifically on the grounds that they used too much of their sick time.

    Not more than they had but too much.

    Oh and if your out more than 2 days don't forget your doctors note, because you have to goto a doctor and pay your non-reimbursable copay (if you have insurance) for them to confirm: yes you are sick and should stay home.

  • by thisnamestoolong (1584383) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:48AM (#42215587)
    I have a better idea; how about you don't drink so much on a work night that you will be unable to come in to work the next day! That way, you will have sick days left for when you have communicable diseases, and I won't have to catch them!
  • Re:Uh, nice try (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:49AM (#42215607)

    There's different kinds of sick.
    You might just be getting tired very easily (so you really need a bed in reach) but otherwise feel quite ok.
    Staying in bed would just drive you crazy, so there's no real reason to not work.
    Also whether you read some book or so or answer emails is kind of the same level of effort, how often are you that sick that you can't/won't read?

  • Re:Uh, nice try (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RobertLTux (260313) <.robert. .at. .laurencemartin.org.> on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:49AM (#42215613)

    quite frankly Businesses should consider trying to get as many folks to work from home as possible.

    start with this question

    What is the exact reason you think that you need all of your people actually nose to muzzle on a day to day basis??

    If its the real time "Face to Face" thing then for all that matters you could have everybody meet on your corporate sim on the SL grid

    would it be worth it to pay US$1000 and then US$295 a month for a meeting place that is world accessable runs 24/7 and does not have the problems of folks making each other sick??

    (special note there are other similar grids with lower prices)

  • by omnichad (1198475) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:56AM (#42215707) Homepage

    And of course to go to that doctor, you must leave home.

  • by Sentrion (964745) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:57AM (#42215725)

    Problem is that many employers will say "yes" to sick time away from work. But years down the road promotions and opportunities will go to the employees who didn't go home sick. The only allowable solution is to hold employers liable if they permit sick employees to come to work and infect their coworkers or customers. Ambitious employees could end up attracting negative attention under such an environment if or when they try to conceal an illness just to get more facetime in the office. Of course, if they are genuinely ambitious and won't to prove their worth even when sick, then the work-from-home option is available to them.

  • Re:Policy change (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:58AM (#42215735)

    this is why we need oversight or regulation or unions (or all 3).

    companies are NOT 'behaving' on their own. they are not self-policing. we all know this. they'll push us as far as they can and not care if we are unhealthy due to their rules.

    seriously, this is the kind of thing we fought over, 100 or so years ago, to get unions in place in the US. things got a lot better for the common union worker. its how we got weekends off, for much of the modern world. before that, we all worked all the time and time off was at the 'mercy' of the employer.

    employers have shown that they cannot be trusted to treat us right.

    therefore, more rules should be in place (and penalties) if employers go 'off track' and back to the old sweatshop days.

    and yes, I consider it sweatshop-like when the vacation pool is the SAME as the sick-day pool! that's a swindle we should never have accepted!

  • by omnichad (1198475) on Friday December 07, 2012 @12:01PM (#42215793) Homepage

    You're still doing your employer a favor by not showing up. What use are you?

  • No offense, but not all workplaces are run the same way, and there certainly are employers who will fire you for taking even one sick day. This doesn't generally happen to people on salary, but it does happen to people who are paid by the hour, especially in jobs where you are easy to replace (such as retail sales and food service.)

  • Re:Sick leaves (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blueg3 (192743) on Friday December 07, 2012 @12:08PM (#42215901)

    Aren't in the US sick leaves taken from your holiday?

    In the US, it's up to your employer.

    My employer actually switched policies recently. We used to have unlimited sick leave that was on a take-it-as-you-need-it basis. We recently switched to having a fixed pool of leave time that is used by both vacation and sick leave. The only benefit here was that the amount of time we get was increased, so if you rarely take sick leave, you have more vacation time now. Still, I don't think that puts incentives in the right places.

  • Re:Sweden (Score:5, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday December 07, 2012 @12:24PM (#42216121)

    In the USA that last part would stop a lot of people from taking sick days since they cannot afford to see a doctor for the note.

    This is yet another area in which the USA is closer to a third world nation than a first world one.

  • Re:Uh, nice try (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Applekid (993327) on Friday December 07, 2012 @12:26PM (#42216153)

    Short answer: because the employees are not trusted to do their job
    Long answer: because the employees are not trusted to do their job, but if they're here there is a chance we might catch them in the act of goofing off

  • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Friday December 07, 2012 @12:38PM (#42216341) Homepage

    What is the exact reason you think that you need all of your people actually nose to muzzle on a day to day basis?? If its the real time "Face to Face" thing then for all that matters you could have everybody meet on your corporate sim on the SL grid

    Short answer is, because despite the antisocial tendencies of the computer community that reads /., human interactions --meaning "real time face to face" interaction, as you put it (what used to be called "talking to people" in the old days)--are valuable, and that doesn't mean text and document exchange, nor even skype. And "corporate sim" is not actually face to face.

  • Re:Uh, nice try (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QRDeNameland (873957) on Friday December 07, 2012 @12:44PM (#42216443)

    There's different kinds of sick. You might just be getting tired very easily (so you really need a bed in reach) but otherwise feel quite ok.

    Or as I've said in certain occasions, some days you can work OK, but you don't want to be outside of a 15 foot radius of your own toilet. TMI, perhaps, but it happens to all of us from time to time.

  • Re:Uh, nice try (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mellon (7048) on Friday December 07, 2012 @12:48PM (#42216469) Homepage

    When I first started working, it was common for employees to have a certain number of sick days and a certain number of vacation days. If you got sick, you took sick days; if you didn't get sick, you didn't take them. Obviously this was ripe for abuse, but it had the virtue of meaning that employees who got sick could go home and get better rather than infecting the whole office with their bug.

    Nowadays, we have PTO (paid time off), which is a combination of sick days and vacation days. Typically, PTO is the same number of days that you used to get for vacation back in the day. So now, whenever you take a sick day, you are losing a vacation day. So duh, of course people come in when they are sick, or else work from home; if they didn't, they'd be burning vacation days. If you ever wonder why the burger-flipper behind the counter at McDonalds sneezed in your burger, this is also why. It still shocks me to see people in food service jobs sneezing, but that's the brave new world we live in.

    I think most 20-something and 30-something workers in the U.S. never experienced "sick days." So maybe this all seems puzzling to you, but it's dead obvious to me: if you want employees to go home sick when they are sick, don't dock their vacation time.

    Of course, I'm completely glossing over the fact that lots of employees are part-time and don't even *get* vacation time. We have really impoverished ourselves over the past thirty years, with the invention of "PTO," with the rise of part-time work as a way to avoid paying benefits, with the rise of lifetime minimum wage employment, and a variety of other innovations.

  • by somersault (912633) on Friday December 07, 2012 @12:53PM (#42216563) Homepage Journal

    I only found out last night (because a friend is applying for jobs in the US right now) that the US doesn't even have a statutory minimum holiday time for workers.

    Employees in sweatshop countries like China and Taiwan have better vacation time than some US employees.t's atrocious, and people being fired for being sick is horrible too. Just another reason for me to dislike the US government. I just can't believe that a supposedly "developed" country would have such a policy, on top of things like no real national healthcare. The US must be an awful place to live if you're poor.

  • Re:Uh, nice try (Score:5, Insightful)

    by yurtinus (1590157) on Friday December 07, 2012 @01:41PM (#42217249)
    My answer: Because if I stay home, I likely would just be goofing off...
  • by lazarus (2879) on Friday December 07, 2012 @02:32PM (#42217941) Journal

    "I've known people to not get promotions specifically on the grounds that they used too much of their sick time."

    Without the context this phrase is not enough to base a judgement on. If a person is "sickly" meaning that they struggle all the time with illness then it is quite possibly the worst thing you can do to them to promote them into a role where they would either have more responsibility or were required to work harder. It may in fact kill them. For the employer it could mean that they just find it too much and quit and you would have to backfill their position. If your manager is making judgements about your work ethic based on statistical information about your sick days, then they are just a lazy, ineffective manager and should be fired by their manager.

    "Some people literally cant afford to be sick, I.E. you don't work you don't get paid."

    I pay my contractors when they're sick. In fact, I also give them vacation time that I pay them for if they are a long-term contractor. I want them to be healthy, happy and productive, not overworked and miserable. That just doesn't make sense.

  • by erice (13380) on Friday December 07, 2012 @02:46PM (#42218161) Homepage

    The problem in the US isn't just that vacation and sick leave are combined. The total is usually less. It is a slight of hand that management uses to reduce time off while making it look like they offer more. There is usually not enough time to get sick, handle unexpected situations, and fit in a actual vacation. That leaves two solutions

    1) Give up on the idea of a real vacation and accept that an extended weekend is the best you are going to get.
    2) Don't take sick days

  • Re:Uh, nice try (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Friday December 07, 2012 @03:30PM (#42218719)

    My answer: Because if I stay home, I likely would just be goofing off...

    That is true for many people. I worked at a company that tried to implement wide scale telecommuting. About a third of the people had equal or better performance. But for the rest, their performance fell. In many cases it fell to nearly zero. When I called one woman to discuss why her productivity had plunged to nothing, she had to pause the phone conversation several times to tell her rug-rats to shutup while she was on the phone. The following Monday, she was back in the office, and her kids were back in daycare. Telecommuting works for some, but not for many others, and it requires significantly more management bandwidth.

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