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Sickness in the Workplace.

Byline: Rebecca Moore

Summary paragraph: Should employees come to or remain at the office when sick?

Art by Ping ZhuWith the colder weather comes cold and flu season and, inevitably, sick employees. We asked NewsDash readers for thoughts about employees coming to or remaining at the office when sick. Seventy-four percent of responding readers indicated they think there should be a workplace policy against sick employees coming to or staying at work

We also fielded suggestions for maintaining a healthy workplace. The top responses included: washing hands regularly and using hand sanitizer-even placing sanitary stations around the office; using Lysol or disinfectant wipes for desktops, phones and door handles; putting up signs reminding people to wash their hands and to cough or sneeze into the bend of their elbow instead of into their palm or straight out; requiring employees to get flu shots; sending an email blast with healthy workplace tips; offering on-site wellness clinics; letting employees telecommute; taking vitamin C and zinc; properly throwing away tissues; and not touching widely used surfaces.

Among the verbatim comments was strong sentiment that sick employees should stay-or go-home. However, some readers displayed understanding regarding those not offered sick days, not paid if they take a day or who might need to use their days off to care for children. (As always, verbatim responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not the stance of PLANSPONSOR or its affiliates at Asset International.)

"Sick employees shouldn't come to work, but there are often rules in place about the number of sick days per year an employee can claim. That's usually why most employees here drag themselves in to work even though they are really ill and contagious."

"I don't get how people think that just by turning away from you to sneeze/cough without covering their nose/mouth it's OK. If you're sick, you need to stay home; you're not a martyr, you're Typhoid Mary."

"Companies should have additional sick days specifically for the flu to allow people to stay home when sick. People come to work because they don't have sick leave and can't afford to stay home, which could be more costly to the organization."

"Not everyone can afford to stay home for their own illness because they may need to save those days to care for ill children instead."

"I think having a 'policy' may be too strong a statement. How does one judge how sick someone is?"

"I probably wouldn't say anything to a sick co-worker, but I would stay away from him/her if possible. I would also make liberal use of Purell and Clorox wipes for all surfaces!"

"STAY HOME! There is no one who is so important he must physically be at the office while sick, particularly with modern technology available now. And employers need to protect well employees by encouraging the sick to vacate the premises without fear of retribution."

"For office jobs with remote access available, stay home and work; better yet, stay home, rest, and get better sooner-and use your PTO [paid time off], it's [not] just meant for vacation."

"Offer sick days without fear of consequences [for] using them."

"I put a lot of pressure on my co-workers not to come to work sick, or to go home. Management doesn't always feel the same way."

"Our sick days have gone down to six per year. I work with lots of younger workers who have kids. If your kids get sick, you use a sick day. If you get sick, you go to work so you're ready for the next wave of school- or daycare-borne illness."

And the Editor's Choice goes to the reader who said: "Companies should all have a kindergarten teacher come in around this time of the year and re-teach folks the basics."

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Date:Dec 1, 2014
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