PSA: In this opinion piece, I’d like to make note that any time I mention sickness I am specifically referencing airborne illnesses in the cold/flu/virus “family”. Many people suffer from chronic pain and other diseases/illnesses that pose no threat to their co-workers, which is important to remember.
There is nothing more revolting to me than knowing someone has the flu or some other revolting infectious airborne cold/virus thing, and having to work in their presence. It is DISGUSTING. I feel like I can see the infection floating through the air with every cough, sniffle or deep breath they take, making it’s way into my facial orifices and down into my blood stream. Like I’m watching a cesspit of airborne disease drop fragments of virus all over my desk.
We all come down with something from time to time. Maybe you cop a bad cold when work is chill and you don’t mind staying home for a day or two waiting for the really sniffly bit to pass before returning to your job. But what happens when you come down with a virus or whatever and work is chaos? YOU STAY HOME IS WHAT HAPPENS.
In Victoria, 31 people have died this year from the flu. The Victorian health minister is literally having to tell people to stay home when they’re sick because it’s become such an issue.
I am fucking tired of people acting like martyrs, like we’re all meant to be impressed with their work ethic or some bullshit, because they’ve trudged into the office with a soaring temperature and snot down their face to slog out an eight-hour day. When did coming to work when deeply unwell become a badge of honour?
With the exception of people who work on casual rates – which is a more complex issue – anyone who has access to sick leave take note. Stay home if you’ve come down with something, for fuck’s sake. I have SOME THOUGHTS.
1. It’s Not Impressive
First things first – you coming to work sick (and whenever I use the term sick, I mean with an infectious airborne illness) is actually fucking with your company, not benefitting it. I don’t care if you’re the CEO of a multi-national corporation, you can take a sick day or two. Call in from your bed if need be, I don’t care. But you traipsing your illness through the office is just infecting other people, which leads to a mass infection and results in a shitload of work becoming delayed.
I used to work in an office with a colleague at a magazine who was notorious for proudly coming into work on her death bed with the flu. She would shuffle in, sniffling loudly, and spread her virus across the desks by coming up to you (!!!) and leaning over your shoulder while loudly proclaiming how unwell she felt, but she “had to come in” because she “had so much to do”. Cue the following week when, without fail, at least three people would catch what she had and hold up the magazine production for days on end. If she’d just stayed home? One section would have been delayed. ONE SECTION.
2. You’re Affecting Everyone
It’s not just your colleagues who have to deal with your shit – if you catch public transport to work, you’re likely spreading your flu all over that bus/train. Is there anything worse than hearing someone’s hacking cough and snotty sniffles behind you, feeling the flecks of spit land on your neck? NO. It’s horrific, and team that with stuffy, cramped conditions and you’ve got an incubator for infectious airborne sickness.
So maybe you work in a small office with two people in it, and they’re cool with you parading your flu around the workspace. That still doesn’t mean it’s OK.
3. It’s Actually Downright Dangerous
To get more serious for a second – it’s actually bloody dangerous to go to work with the flu. Kids, pregnant people, those with immune deficiencies and the elderly are all at risk of catching what to you is a basic cold and having it turn deadly. Maybe you’re a fit, healthy person and can handle a week-long flu – good for you. Not everyone is blessed with a healthy body that can fight viruses so well, and you should think of them.
4. If You’re A Boss, Send Your Sick Employees Home
I’ve had bosses in the past who make you feel like you’ve murdered ten men when you say you’re sick and need to go home. This is NOT OKAY. Creating a culture where your employees feel like staying home to get well is akin to burning down the office is fucked up.
If you’re a manager, make sure your office knows it’s good to battle a flu from their bed, not their desk chair. If you manage in retail and someone calls in sick, don’t make them feel guilty about it – and if they’re a casual worker, maybe try and find a replacement shift for them so they don’t miss out on the cash they lose by taking a sick day.
Bottom line: If you’re a manager, send your sick employees home. If you’re sick – GO HOME. If you’re well and someone in your office is sick – GO GLARE AT THEM FOR ME.Image: Dumb and Dumber