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Medicine Science

Stay Home When You're Sick! 670

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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  • Sweden (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:24AM (#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%.

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

    by xaxa ( 988988 ) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:29AM (#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:4, Interesting)

    by captainpanic ( 1173915 ) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:31AM (#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.

  • by gfxguy ( 98788 ) on Friday December 07, 2012 @12:09PM (#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 sithkhan ( 536425 ) <> on Friday December 07, 2012 @12:27PM (#42216191)
    Mod this up for the MF truth.
  • by superflippy ( 442879 ) on Friday December 07, 2012 @01:19PM (#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!

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

    by RicoX9 ( 558353 ) <> on Friday December 07, 2012 @01:38PM (#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.

  • by kannibal_klown ( 531544 ) on Friday December 07, 2012 @01:45PM (#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.

  • by QRDeNameland ( 873957 ) on Friday December 07, 2012 @02:00PM (#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 Frightened_Turtle ( 592418 ) on Friday December 07, 2012 @02:10PM (#42217643) Homepage

    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 lazarus ( 2879 ) on Friday December 07, 2012 @02:18PM (#42217717) Homepage 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.

"If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong." -- Norm Schryer