Stay Home Sickos!

Ace of Spaces thinks people who are sick should stay the hell home.  I tend to agree, but I’m being a hypocrite today saying that.  I feel like dirt, yet I’m still at work.  Granted, no way in hell I’d come to work with the flu, but I shouldn’t really even come in with a cold, and risk making other people sick and miserable.

The problem is, I am a hoarder.   Company policy is that we get six days of sick time a year, but we get to deposit unused time into a “sick bank”.  Given that a cold will last up to a week, I can’t really afford to take the time off and still have anything left over should I get the flu, and the flu is particularly bad this year.  My instinct is to hoard sick days for a serious illness, rather than the sniffly coughy kinds of illness.

Wise companies will encourage or force sick employees to stay home, so as not to contaminate a company’s entire labor pool, but most HR people, who make these policies, tend to enjoy putting the cart before the horse.  If you create policies that discourage people from taking sick days, you can’t be surprised when people show up sick, and the plague spreads through the company like wildfire.  I think for most HR types, it’s more of a priority to prevent employees from treating sick time like vacation.  Good employees won’t do that (at least not much), but human resources departments will seldom want to blame bad hiring and bad performance management practices, which are hard to fix, when you can appear to fix the problem with a few simple policy changes.  Giving the appearance of action is a pretty fundamental drive for lazy people who want to look good for others who won’t bother to look all that closely.

6 thoughts on “Stay Home Sickos!”

  1. Absolutely.

    When reading Ace’s post, he mentioned someone who came in with pneumonia, and that boggles me.

    I had walking pneumonia a few years ago (in the middle of damn summer), and I can’t imagine driving to work and even pretending to put in a day’s work while feeling like that. I was too busy being feverish and chilled and lying on the couch feeling horrible and watching Kurosawa movies.

    (Nothing like Sanjuro, Yojimbo, and The Hidden Fortress when you’re really ill and confined to the couch.)

    The Doctor assured me that by the time the antibiotics had made me feel capable of working, I was going to be non-contagious.

  2. I don’t get people who come in with flu. When I have flu, I feel like I’m going to die, and I sometimes think it might be preferable to how I feel. I don’t feel like I could reasonably drive 30 miles to work and back, let alone function once I get there.

  3. I wish I had staed home today (nothing horrid, just a minor cold). Went in to join a confrence call in hopes of getting some info from the horse’s mouth, and got it from teh other end instead…

    After it was done I told my boss “I’m outta here, probably see you thrusday” with 2 hrs left in my nominal day.

    But I don’t get sick days per se – I get a 5% absenteeism forgiveness, so I can’t “bank” them. (I also get another 5 days of “emergency short notice” which can be used for personal days (non-bankable) and vacation (bankable to a total of 150% of allotment) with no warning. I’ll miss the OT I was going to work, though

  4. Back around the turn of the century (ain’t that a phrase to make you feel old?), my employer dumped the old system of vacation + sick leave + floating holidays and rolled them all into personal days.

    For someone who hardly ever gets sick, this is a marvelous system.

  5. I had an employer who used that system, and it is indeed great it you never get sick, but you’re going to get sick, because none of your coworkers are going to want to burn “vacation” to be home sick, so they will come to work and infect everyone else.

  6. Having just been through a round of interviews with various companies, I can say that the majority of newer employers use the concept of “personal time off”. So instead of starting a new employee with 2 weeks of vacation and 5 sick days, they’ll get 3 weeks of personal time off.

    This concept needs to go the way of the dodo. All that it does is encourage people to show up to work sick. Sick people don’t get work done and infect everyone else.

    The argument for bundling sick days and vacation days together is “Well, if you don’t get sick, you lose the sick days.” Yes, and at a lot of places, if I don’t take the vacation, I lose those too. Sick time is also paid for out of a different pot of money, so I don’t think that PTO is saving the company anything. In fact, it’s probably costing them more.

    As Sebastian said, it all boils down to the fact that companies (read HR) don’t trust their employees, and would rather shift the risk and the blame of hiring bad people elsewhere.

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