This is an intricate issue.
Sue recounted numerous instances in which both she and other employees showed up for work with runny noses, fevers, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, sometimes because of money concerns, and sometimes because of the fear of losing their jobs. In extreme cases, like vomiting, a manager is likely to send a worker home. But otherwise, management tends to look the other way, she says.
Either way, she says, they want a sick employee to show up to prove they’re actually sick.
“You can’t just not show up for your shift and say, ‘Oh, I’m sick,’” she says, “because you risk getting written up or potentially fired.”
The issue of workers showing up for work sick is getting a lot of attention as the nation gets walloped by the worst flu season in years, and a norovirus infection, which causes gastrointestinal distress, runs rampant.
I’m a big supporter of letting sick workers stay home when they are sick with no consequence. Nobody wants that stuff spread around. But while I think it’s a good policy for business owners, I do not think it is the role of government to mandate such policies. After all, there are wide variances in jobs and levels of sickness. For example, a food server should never go to work sick, but why can’t a factory worker on a machine all alone go to work with the sniffles? It’s a judgment call which makes it ill-suited for regulation.
But I strongly support folks who stay home when they are ill. I don’t want their germs and neither does anyone else.
And yet you’ll get them, because there are unscrupulous bosses and managers out there who are more concerned with not running a shift a man short than the health and well-being of their employees, and as this article evidences, the employees are too scared to rat them out for fear of losing their jobs.
I’m with you, in that in a perfect world we’d have bosses and employees who always did the right thing. And I certainly have no problems with employers requiring documentation of illness if they suspect sick leave is being abused. But on the flip side, where’s the public health protection (especially in the case of service industry positions) if not for some type of government intervention? I’d think it better to give employees some reasonable amount of sick leave and allow the employer to request documentation than to go the other way, where clearly you’re getting sick employees breathing on your food because they’re afraid of the negative repercussions for standing up for themselves.
If we decide as a matter of public health that we’d rather sick people not be serving food, do you really think people who have a vested interest in making money off that business and who know they can intimidate their employees are the prime candidates to make that happen?
I wonder what the potential liability would be if an illness-impaired driver got in an accident and caused injury to someone. Seems like the employer would be interjecting himself into that situation.
So, if you work from home, you’ve got nothing in the sick-day-excuse department, right?