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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 @10:17AM (#42215145)

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

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

      by xaxa (988988) on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:29AM (#42215285)

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

      Like yesterday. A colleague phoned in sick, but we received an email from her a little later.

      We told our manager, who emailed the sick colleague and reminded her that she should rest if she's ill (or otherwise follow medical advice). It's stupid to worry about work, or do any work, when that's likely to delay your return to work.

      Of course, this wasn't in America.

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

        by RobertLTux (260313) <robert@laurencemartin. o r g> on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:49AM (#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)

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

          by Applekid (993327) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:26AM (#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

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

            by yurtinus (1590157) on Friday December 07, 2012 @12:41PM (#42217249)
            My answer: Because if I stay home, I likely would just be goofing off...
            • Re:Uh, nice try (Score:5, Insightful)

              by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Friday December 07, 2012 @02:30PM (#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.

        • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:38AM (#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.

          • by QRDeNameland (873957) on Friday December 07, 2012 @01:00PM (#42217503)

            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.

            As someone who works for a firm where most of our people work remotely, I have to agree. At a certain point it does become an impediment to productivity when people are only communicating over the wire. Some companies will manage this better than others, but I think there's always some level of overhead to working remotely.

            But that said, in today's day and age, if your job is done primarily in front of a screen or on the phone, there is really no good reason not to at least have the ability to work from home for times when you are either not all that sick (but potentially contagious), or your kid's sick, or even if you just have to be home for the cable guy. I have one regular work at home day per week, and if for any reason I want or need to work from home any other day, I won't get any grief unless I was blowing off an important meeting or the like. The technology to do so is ubiquitous, and I don't think there's as much of an issue with sometimes working from home than with working 100% remotely.

            At a previous job, not only would people routinely come in sick, it was not uncommon for someone to show up at work with their sick child who can't be in school or day care. Sorry but rarely, if ever, is one single person is so valuable that the need for their presence in the office outweighs the cost of them being a disease vector to everyone else. I don't really understand why more employers don't look *down* on showing up sick.

        • by sjbe (173966) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:45AM (#42216453)

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

          My business and the business of nearly $4 trillion of the US GDP is in manufacturing. You cannot manufacture most items from home. It is quite literally impossible. You need to be at your place of business to do most useful work in manufacturing. The same applies to retail, transportation, food service and health care industries among many others. You have to be there to be useful. Add in the fact that many, many workers are hourly employees and beyond a limited amount of sick/personal time they don't get paid if they aren't present.

          IT is an exception when it comes to telecommuting. Most jobs require having a body in the office/plant for a very good reason. I know there are a lot of IT workers here on slashdot but recognize that your situation is somewhat unique compared to most.

    • Re:Uh, nice try (Score:4, Interesting)

      by captainpanic (1173915) on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:31AM (#42215331)

      No. Not at all.
      The base case is someone who got up, and has the plan to go to work. The article says that if you are ill, you should consider to work at home.

      They actually say that we should lower the threshold of when we call in sick. But also that we should consider an intermediate solution for when you're not so sick: work from home. It is a win-win: you recover quicker, and you don't contaminate your colleagues.

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

      by mellon (7048) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:48AM (#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.

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

        by RicoX9 (558353) <rico.rico@org> on Friday December 07, 2012 @12:38PM (#42217215) Homepage

        That's how it works where I work (hospital). 90+% of the time, my job function is no different from what I'd be doing telecommuting. Not only that, we have a moratorium on moves/adds/changes on Mondays and Fridays. If I'm not visible while creating heat+CO2, it isn't considered "working".

        2 years ago because of the "bad economy" they took away 6 days of PTO. Because we're healthcare, and our management is nearly braindead (maybe just lazy) when it comes to certain things. All employees are treated the same whether clerical or clinical. We have NO normal vacation days (Xmas, Thanksgiving, 4th of July, etc). Used to be you could elect to work on a holiday or not. I used to work a lot of holidays and save the vacation for when I had custody time with my kids. Shortly after they took away the 6 days of PTO, they made 6 holidays mandatory. SO, in the space of less than a year, I'd lost as much as 12 days of vacation time.

        We do have a long-term sick bank, but you have to burn 40hrs of PTO before the LTS kicks in. If you don't have 40hrs? No pay for the interim. I have trouble keeping 40 hrs as it is, and almost 700 in LTS.

        I had already given up a week when I went to work there (more, since holidays didn't count against me in the prior job). I now have to be very jealous of my days off. Add even newer rules about being "tardy" (how can someone who is salaried and works over 40 hrs/wk and is on call all the time be tardy???). Other rules that get you a write up if you call in sick - you're supposed to go to work and have your manager send you home(?!?!). The list goes on.

        I thank the jerkoffs in Washington under Bush's cronyism rule for taking the teeth out of the FLSA. The rule changes here went into effect as the FLSA rules went out. My wife's employer is even worse. Shit that would never have gone on 5-6 yrs ago when salaried IT workers had at least a little protection against being indentured servants. There's a reason corporate profits are at an all-time high. As soon as my kids graduate HS, I'll finally be free to get out of this shithole in the Bible Belt and move somewhere with at least a little sanity and job competition.

        TL;DR: Employers take advantage. Employees don't like getting ass-raped for being sick, so they come to work sick.

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

          by wadeal (884828) on Friday December 07, 2012 @02:51PM (#42218991)
          You blame someone else? How is you not doing anything about losing your rights anyone's fault but yours?

          What have you personally done to stand up for your rights? Have you taken your concerns to management or talked with your union (if part of one)?

          As an Australian I cannot begin to fathom what it must be like to live in that shit hole over there - you work for nothing, with no rights, 90% of people are fucking broke, half your country is retarded and refuses to allow public healthcare so all those poor people stay sick and poor and while all this happens you allow your country to spend TRILLIONS on defence - while people die from basic medical conditions that would cost a small percentage of your defence budget!?!?

          Do you even get how fucking mentally handicapped your entire country seems? AND IT'S PEOPLE LIKE YOU WHO ARE TO BLAME FOR NOT DOING ANYTHING.
      • by erice (13380) on Friday December 07, 2012 @01:46PM (#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

  • by fustakrakich (1673220) on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:18AM (#42215151) Journal

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

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:24AM (#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.

      • by msk (6205) on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:29AM (#42215291)

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

        • by Cro Magnon (467622) on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:40AM (#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 Woldry (928749)
            I don't want my supervisor in the bathroom with me when I'm home with an intestinal bug. Hell, I don't want my supervisor anywhere near my home.
            • by Grishnakh (216268)

              I do, however. And I don't want your supervisor to be allowed to wash his hands after being in contact with you in the bathroom, either.

              The only way we'll get change is for the people in power to be personally affected by their decisions.

          • by Sentrion (964745) on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:57AM (#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.

            • by lazarus (2879) on Friday December 07, 2012 @01:18PM (#42217717) Journal

              I am a manager. Each year around this time of year I remind all of the people who work for me about the "I'm sick" policy. That policy is: "Don't come to work. I hate being sick, and if you give me the cold or a flu I'm going to be pissed off." I don't tell them they must work while they are at home, or that they shouldn't work while they are at home -- just like I don't tell them to brush their teeth or not. I expect them to use good judgement -- that is part of being a good employee. Being understanding and enabling your employees is being a good manager.

              Good managers know their staff. If someone is not pulling their weight, you should know. If someone is putting in the extra effort, you should know. If you are making performance-related decisions about your staff based on statistics about their sick days you're a lazy-ass manager and YOUR manager should fire you. If you're working for someone who manages you like that, you should quietly start looking around.

              IMHO, looking for the right job is as much about finding the right manager as it is about working in an occupation that you care about.

              Caveat: If you are a manager and can't manage your staff properly because there is just too damn many of them, then YOU'RE manager is not doing his/her job... This is really simple, I have no idea why people find it such a mystery. People need to lead by example -- being a manager is not some kind of reward for a long successful career -- it's more responsibility and you need to step up to it.

          • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Friday December 07, 2012 @12:20PM (#42216957)

            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.

            Here's where you, as the employee, can take the initiative. When I worked for a supervisor that didn't like people out sick, I dragged my miserable ass to the office in the morning to pick up some work to do at home and visit the boss's office for a personal check-in -- you know, to see if there was anything special that came up that I needed to deal with before/instead of what it was understood I was working on. Maybe i had to borrow his desk phone to track him down when he wasn't right there. Proactive stuff. It's what conscientious employees do.

            Now I'm an engineer, not a doctor, so I don't know if that had any relation to the boss not showing up the next week.

      • by thomasw_lrd (1203850) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:52AM (#42216551)

        My wife is a nurse, and yes they are not allowed to call in sick. It's an automatic write-up and that's if you have a doctors note stating you were sick. I'm sure it's close to termination if you don't have note.

    • by who_stole_my_kidneys (1956012) on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:46AM (#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 omnichad (1198475) on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:56AM (#42215707) Homepage

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

      • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:35AM (#42216309)

        Note that they can't fire you for being sick too often. However, they can fire you for calling in sick when you're not. It's a subtle distinction, and can be abused on both ends.

        That said, they can fire you for any reason - at least in work-at-will states. Sounds to me like either your people had shitty managers/HR departments or were trying to game the system. I've seen both things happen.

      • by lazarus (2879) on Friday December 07, 2012 @01:32PM (#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 tnk1 (899206)

      Actually, they don't mind if you take sick days, they just make sure you are forced to take vacation time to cover your sick days. Yay, flex time.

    • by IrquiM (471313) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:34AM (#42216283) Homepage
      I'm glad I live in a area of the world were this kind of behaviour is illegal!
    • by AwesomeMcgee (2437070) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:42AM (#42216409)
      It's not even about the work, it's more sterile than that. I had a hospital stay, used up all my (very little) sick time, then was given 1 week of unpaid time after which they it ran into the HR's cut-off where HR rules dictated termination occurs for non-attendance, and thus I was let go. End of story. It's a matter of our culture accepting these ~2-3 days of sick time a year, what a joke. I'm not using that time for a cough, sorry, I might break something between now and the end of the year at which point I'll actually *need* that little bit of time.
      • by jittles (1613415)

        It's not even about the work, it's more sterile than that. I had a hospital stay, used up all my (very little) sick time, then was given 1 week of unpaid time after which they it ran into the HR's cut-off where HR rules dictated termination occurs for non-attendance, and thus I was let go. End of story. It's a matter of our culture accepting these ~2-3 days of sick time a year, what a joke. I'm not using that time for a cough, sorry, I might break something between now and the end of the year at which point I'll actually *need* that little bit of time.

        What country was this in? If you cannot attend work due to illness or injury (in the United States), then you are covered by up to 12 weeks of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). You have to have been employed for a certain amount of time to be eligible, but they can be held liable for terminating you after you invoke the FMLA. Of course small businesses are exempt from FMLA.

      • by ces (119879) <christopher@stefan#gmail@com> on Friday December 07, 2012 @12:47PM (#42217319) Homepage Journal

        If you are in the US and got fired because you used up your sick leave and hit some arbitrary cutoff set by HR for unpaid leave that was less than the statutory amounts your former employer is opening themselves up for a lawsuit and Federal fines. The Family and Medical Leave Act entitles you to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for illness or medical conditions that leave you unable to perform your duties: http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/#.UMIqn7SmClI [dol.gov]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:18AM (#42215153)

    Going home sick means using sick time. Getting sick time means getting paid not not work. Getting paid to not work means socialism. Socialism = communism.

    QED.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:18AM (#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?

    • My boss eliminated sick days in 2009. The process of getting sick days was completely asinine before then even. If you worked your full scheduled shifts for a month, you earned 4 hours of sick time. If you left early one day, or had a Dr Appt, anything that caused you not get all of your hours in the month in, you didn't "earn" any sick time that month

      Tying sick time to attendance was always a jerk move. He started at this company for minimum wage out of high school and 25 years later is President.

      • by gfxguy (98788) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:09AM (#42215919)
        We sort of eliminated "sick" days by combining sick, personal, and vacation days all into Paid Time Off (PTO). Nobody had a problem taking a sick day when they were sick, nobody was going to get fired for it (although when there was crucial stuff going on you might be asked to provide a note from a doctor - but I've never heard of anybody actually being asked to). But now people treat all the days as vacation days - so they come in when they're sick because they don't want to blow a vacation day on it. Some of us have the luxury of working at home; if the illness is not that bad - i.e. the main reason I won't come in is because I don't want to make other people sick, then my supervisor has no problem with it.
        • by superflippy (442879) on Friday December 07, 2012 @12:19PM (#42216953) Homepage Journal

          They switched to this combined PTO system at my husband's workplace shortly before he was hired. They used to just let people take as many sick days as they needed, but people started abusing the system. Since so many of the employees there have been working there for 10+ years and have tons of vacation time and their kids are all grown, they didn't mind. Most of them had more PTO banked than they could use.

          But new hires, like my husband and most of the people in his group, get screwed. They get 10 days PTO for the first 4 years & that has to account for vacation & sick days. What ends up happening is that the younger folks go to work sick, especially in the beginning of the year, because they have to save up the sick & vacation days for if they really, really need them.

          For example, my husband went into work sick today because the entire workplace has to take a mandatory holiday from Dec. 24 through Jan. 2. If you have PTO to use on those days, great. If not, too bad! And if you have customers who need work done during that time? Too bad! We are a large, inflexible company! We do not accommodate the petty requests of individual departments, no matter how profitable they are!

  • Sick leaves (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aepervius (535155) on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:19AM (#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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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.
      • Re:Sick leaves (Score:5, Informative)

        by AmiMoJo (196126) * <[ten.3dlrow] [ta] [ojom]> on Friday December 07, 2012 @12:24PM (#42217009) Homepage

        In Europe your statutory holidays days (those mandated by law, currently 28 days in the UK but that includes public holidays so more like 25) are for holidays and nothing else. In fact if you get sick on holiday you get that time back, even if you happen to be on a tropical beach in the Caribbean at the time.

        Sick leave has no mandatory minimum but the company has to go through a process to fire you if you take lots of time off for illness, they can't just summarily dismiss you. Well, at least that is the case for salaried workers, contract workers don't have as much protection.

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

      by srobert (4099) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:07AM (#42215875)

      In the U.S. there's no law requiring the employer to pay for holidays, vacation, sick time, etc. Many people get paid only for the time they spend at work and make only enough money to keep their bills paid. Remember that when you visit the U.S. and eat in a restaurant, the people preparing your food might have the flu, but they're still working because they can't afford to lose a day's pay.

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

      by blueg3 (192743) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:08AM (#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.

    • 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.

      It depends on the company.

      Most companies I've seen or heard of, consider "sick days" part of a pool of "personal time off" Depending on how it's structured, it's either just from your pool of X vacation days OR a pool of X vacation days and Y extra PTO days. SO, people decide to save them for when they want to take them or for when they're incredibly sick (can't get out of bed).

      Some companies are smart: they give essentially unlimited / undefined sick days. But they just monitor it to make sure that you

  • Wasting Sick days (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bagboy (630125) <neo@arctiPLANCKc.net minus physicist> on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:19AM (#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 @10:19AM (#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

      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...

      • Actually what everyone is missing is most minimum wage part-time jobs provide neither vacation nor sick days. Calling in sick is usually met with skepticism, and doing so puts your job at risk. So if you're lucky to have two part time jobs, you can not afford to get sick.
    • by Eunuchswear (210685) on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:31AM (#42215321) Journal

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

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      The reason for blue-collar workers is even more clear:

      C: Some people are paid hourly and don't get any kind of paid time off, so missing a day of work is losing cash that they need to pay the rent.

    • by i kan reed (749298) on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:43AM (#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 IorDMUX (870522)

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

        *sigh*

        Yup, I'll be back at work on December 26th.

    • by omglolbah (731566) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:00AM (#42215763)

      I can be on 100% medical leave for a -year- with full pay with approval from my doctor.
      This is the same for all Norwegian workers.

      "Sick-days" is called "Egenmelding" or "Self Message" directly translated, basically if you're sick and dont see a doctor you have 4 of those a year, up to 3 days each. If you need more than that see a doctor and get medical leave.
      After 15 or so days the company no longer pays medical leave and the state system takes over paying it.

      Hell, at the company I work we get 24 sick days a year (used in 1-7 day chunks, depending on what you need). These sick days are with full pay.
      Those with children below the age of 12 get an additional 12 (I think) days of leave to be home with sick child.

      This system works great for keeping people the hell away from the office when sick :)

      • by Lithdren (605362) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:40AM (#42216365)

        I'd like to point out, you're getting more sick leave in a given year, then I get vacation time (which includes my sick days) in a given year.

        This problem seems to be more of an issue in the US, and I think its blindingly odvious why that would be, given the rules in this part of the world. Working from home while sick seems like an utterly stupid concept to me, you're not resting so you'll only make it worse and last longer.

        Ontop of this, its common in the US that if you need more than 1 day, you need a doctors excuse. Sometimes its 2 days, but from my experience its usally 1 day. If you only call in sick one day the entire year, and are out for 3 days, even if you're given 10 months of sick leave, without a doctors note they'll fire you on the spot.

        I hate this country for its treatment of labor.

      • Those with children below the age of 12 get an additional 12 (I think) days of leave to be home with sick child.

        What a wonderful policy! At many workplaces in the US, it's the younger employees who haven't earned a lot of vacation time yet who have kids under 12. That's another reason they go to work sick: they want to save their sick days in case they need to stay home with a sick child.

      • by kannibal_klown (531544) on Friday December 07, 2012 @12:45PM (#42217291)

        I can be on 100% medical leave for a -year- with full pay with approval from my doctor.
        This is the same for all Norwegian workers.

        Here, in the US we have that too... but sometimes don't be surprised if there's a termination notice coming your way when you get back.

        A family member of mine worked in the World Trade Center, she'd only been there maybe 3 months up to 9/11. Nobody from her office/department that was on time that morning made it out. She was the only one, or one of the only ones, from her department in the building when it happened. She was next in line for the elevator when her tower was hit.

        Her department in another building wanted her to come back THE NEXT DAY. NO. The woman at the other building didn't understand why not: it's not like she was ON the floor above where the plane hit. My family member was shocked at how insensitive the witch was being on the phone: Umm, because if I was on that floor I'd be dead like everyone else? Because unlike you, I was actually THERE?

        She was messed up. She wasn't faking or exaggerating: experiencing that, fearing that, seeing people hit the ground while she tried to get out... was too much for her. She was messed up for a while.

        So she took sick leave: I think 3 months or so. I was there, it was a really rough time for her. She could have taken longer due the company rules, but she eventually got to the point where she felt she could at least FACE what had happened.

        She went back to work, and was fired a few days later for unspecified reasons.

  • limited sick days (Score:5, Informative)

    by alen (225700) on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:19AM (#42215173)

    if you have kids you have to leave enough days to stay home with sick kids. that means you get your a$$ into the office and infect everyone else if you get sick

    my oldest kid was sick literally every 2-3 weeks at one point while in day care. he spent just over a year taking anti-biotics almost non stop

    • my oldest kid was sick literally every 2-3 weeks at one point while in day care. he spent just over a year taking anti-biotics almost non stop

      Although it's possible to have a chronic / semi chronic bacterial infection, it's more likely that he had multiple viral illnesses and didn't need antibiotics at all. If that happens again, carefully question the provider about the need for antibiotics. They're not good for you. They can save your life if you need them, but if it's a viral infection then all they can do is give you side effects.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:19AM (#42215181)
    Who uses sick days to be sick? If I'm going to be sick and miserable, I'd rather be at work!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:23AM (#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.

  • Sweden (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:24AM (#42215225)

    Not sure how it works in USA, but in Sweden the "default" rule (= the minimum that you as a company must do) is that on your first sick day, you get no salary. After that, you get 80% of your salary. If you come back and become sick again, the cycle repeats.

    However, many companies, include mine, have taken a more generous stand. We give you 80% from day one, and if you feel sufficiently well that you can still be somewhat productive at home (e.g. answer mail or whatever), you get 100%.

  • Policy change (Score:5, Insightful)

    by boristdog (133725) on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:24AM (#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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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 t

      • by Ironchew (1069966)

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

        Unfortunately, we'll have to drag the reactionary wingnuts in the U.S. kicking and screaming every step of the way. Unions and labor rights are a part of the constitution of many other first-world nations; that's how far behind the curve the U.S. currently is.

        We have too many people in the U.S. that blame the government for things their employers do to them. You would think they'd learn by now...

  • by Cutting_Crew (708624) on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:25AM (#42215253)
    We get 5 weeks of vacation per year(not counting holidays). We can use it how we need to. I have had this my last 2 employers now and it makes sense. Whether you want to take off for Christmas, goof off or if you get the flu, to the company its all the same.
  • by LoRdTAW (99712) on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:29AM (#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 jedidiah (1196) on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:35AM (#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 @10:35AM (#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 @10:38AM (#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.

    • Thank you for a sensible response to balance out the slew of 'all employers suck' nonsense. Sorry no mod points atm. I've seen a growing trend of employers with unlimited sick days or something similar. Can't say whether or not that is global, just my observation. So much for the growing 'anti labor mentality'
  • by tatman (1076111) on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:45AM (#42215547) Homepage
    1) Usually the time away sick is taken away from time for vacation. In the US, PTO is becoming more the norm which lumps vacation and sick all together. Even when you did get sick time, it was poor. 3 days or 5 days. With one bout of the flu, its gone. If you have kids, then you know you will be taking more time away because they are sick and it comes out of your vacation time. 2) Schedules and deadlines don't change because you were sick. You expected to work overtime, make it up, etc etc. There's nothing wrong with the work ethic, if you want to, but when its expected, the stress of it can be worse than muddling through the day at the office sick 3) I cannot count on my hands how many times I have seen employers dock employees reviews because they "took so much sick time". You were sick. Poor thing. No raise for you! 4) Social attitudes. If you call in sick and are found to be "lying", you even risk getting fired. So people do not want to call in sick for fear of assumption that others will think your lying. PTO is suppose to address this but it still happens.
  • by Maximum Prophet (716608) on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:53AM (#42215673)
    I saw some research into people that "Were Never Sick a Day in Their Lives". Turns out these people get the common cold just as much as the rest of the population, but they don't get the immune system avalanche that give normal humans their symptoms. So even though their not sick, they are infecting the rest of us.

    Anyway, imagine you are a boss, and your promotion/bonus is tied to quantifiable goals. You have on your team someone who is never sick, and someone who is sick all the time. Who do you want to keep on your team? Who are you going to give the raise? As long as you work in an environment where "performance" is measured and rewarded, you don't want to appear as a non-performer.
  • by tantrum (261762) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:43AM (#42216413)

    Here in Norway it is required by law that every employee has the possibility to call in sick for 4x3 days per 12 months (not by calendar year). This is with 100% pay, no questions asked. If you're reall sick, and has to get sickleave, this will not count in on the 12 days as long as you get medical confirmation. Sickleave is also with 100% pay btw.

    In addition every parent has the right to stay home when their kid/babysitter is sick, I believe that is upto 20 days a year. This is also with 100% pay.

    A fun thing is also that if you get sick on your vacation days, you'll get replacement vacation days. This is only for the 5 weeks of required vacation, not the national holidays though.

  • by Frightened_Turtle (592418) on Friday December 07, 2012 @01:10PM (#42217643)

    I once worked for a small manufacturing company with some big clients. Flu shots for employees were mandatory, unless their doctor said otherwise, and were provided FREE by the company. It was the first time I ever saw a company with this policy. It has since become a regular policy in other companies where I have worked.

    The year before I worked there, the attitude of management was very antagonistic towards employees who called in sick. Management had the stance that employees were using sick time to avoid work and were lazy, unproductive workers. One employee called in sick with the flu over several days and his manager didn't believe him. So the manager made him report to work the next day. So, the employee, still sick, reported for work.

    As can be expected, a few days later, workers in the company began dropping like flies as the flu spread through the ranks. By the end of the week, every employee except three became ill and could not report to work. Including the CEO. The company's production, management, and business was completely shut down for three weeks. The three who were still on were low-level employees who had neither the authority or skill to do anything in the company to keep production going or even send out what product was ready to be packaged and shipped.

    The three employees who did not become ill were the only three in the company who had gotten flu shots.

    The damage didn't end there. This small company produced a key component for a seasonal product sold by a major company in the US. Without this component, the client could not produce their own product. This mini-epidemic occurred just as the small company needed to ramp up their production in order for their client to ramp up their production to meet the coming seasonal demand. (This is an event that shows the serious flaw in Just-In-Time manufacturing.) So, not only could this small company not produce the item their client needed, it seriously jeopardized their client's critical production period. Their client, in a panic, had to turn to another company to produce this part.

    Not only did this company have production shutdown for all their clients for three weeks, they lost a huge account with a very important client. They had to fight to get this client to give them another chance the next year and had to accept unfavorable terms in the new contract. There was similar damage to some contracts with their smaller clients. All this resulted in extended business losses for the company, not just three weeks of production! This damage continied on in a few rounds of layoffs over the next couple of years, one of which got me cut from the company.

    The new policy at the company when I started was all employees will have flu shots, provided for free by the company, and anyone who even thought they were sick was to call in and stay away until they were over whatever bug hit them. They were still trying to regain lost business and repair damage to their reputation when I came into the company. When I learned the story behind the company's "progressive" sick policy, it was estimated that the company had permanently lost a third of its clientele and they were fighting to retain another third.

    Fifteen years after all this happened, this company is still around, but I estimate they are less than half the size what they were when I worked for them. A combination of the flu shutdown and the flow of manufacturing jobs being sent to China was nearly the death-blow for this company. They sold off buildings and facilities in order to stay afloat. A lot of very hard lessons are all wrapped up in this story.

    All this damage because of just one manager ordering one sick employee to report to work.

  • by vikingpower (768921) <<exercitussolus> <at> <gmail.com>> on Friday December 07, 2012 @01:36PM (#42218019) Homepage Journal
    ...this sounds to me, as a European. When we are sick, we simply stay at home. A social insurance we obligedly contribute to pays the salary, after the first three days ( which, at least in Austria, the country I live in, are paid for by the employer, as regulated by law and trade-union agreements ). The tone of TFA seems like coming from another planet...

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