Working from home whilst ill

(59 Posts)
JohnLuther Tue 09-Feb-16 10:27:00

This is more of a rant than AIBU but why is it when employees are ill they can't work from home yet as soon as a manger starts getting the sniffles etc they email everyone saying that they are ill and that they will be working from home?

I agree in most cases that if you are too ill to come in then you can't work from home, however with the managers it reeks of double standards and it just ends up pissing other people off as they are the ones who have sickness absences not the managers.

HeadDreamer Tue 09-Feb-16 10:28:07

I can work from home when ill. It's just your company I think. They are really BU if it's not the same rule applying to managers and the rest.

HeadDreamer Tue 09-Feb-16 10:28:53

And there's a large difference between too ill too commute and too ill to do work. I have a 35 mile drive and I don't want to be driving if I'm not feeling well.

Muskateersmummy Tue 09-Feb-16 10:30:14

I am currently off sick.... But am working from home. I physically can't go to work but my mind is fully functioning. Totally depends on the illness and the job.

yorkshapudding Tue 09-Feb-16 10:35:36

YANBU. I think any situation where there is one rule for management and one for employees is bound to cause resentment. A colleague and friend of mine (in a senior role) has IBS and has days when she feels fine in herself but just can't move very far from the bathroom so she works from home on this occasions. If she decided to take this option but then didn't allow her junior staff to do the same I would think her a massive hypocrite.

Muskateersmummy Tue 09-Feb-16 10:40:21

I agree Yorks but there are some jobs which allow for working from home (in which case you should be fair across the board) and some which can't. My dh could work from home if he was ill, but he couldn't offer the same to his employees simply because their job wouldn't be physically possible from home.

The flip side to this is that someone else who was signed off sick as I am now would be resting, chilling out and not worrying about working, by contrast instead of resting I am emailing, making calls and doing speak sheets ....

It's the double standards that are the problem. We are all able to work from home when to ill to commute in but not too ill to work. It shouldn't be one rule for management and one for staff unless their jobs can't be done from home.

Muskateersmummy Tue 09-Feb-16 10:41:09

*or even spreadsheets!

redhat Tue 09-Feb-16 10:45:43

It generally less about double standards and more about whether work can be done at home and the employee can be trusted to do it.

The rule should however be that if you're ill you're ill and shouldn't be working.

The manager with IBS may well have a disability and working from home when she has an episode would be a reasonable adjustment.

JohnLuther Tue 09-Feb-16 10:45:52

Just to clarify, we can all WFH quite easily just by taking our laptops home, no specialist equipment is needed so that's not why it's one rule for us and another for them.

Muskateersmummy Tue 09-Feb-16 10:48:18

Is it a one rule for them and another for you? Has anyone actually called in and said "I'm ill but I have my laptop so will do some work from home" or is it just assumed that it won't be allowed.

Whenever I take sick days, I call and say I'm off because of x y or broken back (currently!) but I'm available via email and phone if you need me and then work as much as feasible

HeadDreamer Tue 09-Feb-16 10:50:23

JohnLuther I'm assuming this is the case, where you can easily work from home. I'm sure it's just about them not trusting you to do the work.

I totally don't agree with The rule should however be that if you're ill you're ill and shouldn't be working. @redhat.

If I had a very bad night sleep because the DDs been up for a few times at night, I can fall asleep while driving. This is one of the common reasons I don't go into the office. I have a 4yo and a 1yo. It's rubbish if they each wake up once at night, and then it takes me ages to fall back to sleep.

I can still effectively work at home.

Lweji Tue 09-Feb-16 10:53:08

Are you ever allowed to work from home? Or is it just a thing when you are ill?

JohnLuther Tue 09-Feb-16 10:53:21

Yes it has happened, I've been ill with and I was 'reminded' that I couldn't WFH. Yet a manager has emailed me today saying that they are ill but they will be WFH.

redhat Tue 09-Feb-16 10:54:04

Headdreamer if you were employed by one of my clients I would be saying you should come to work. If you didn't get a good night's sleep you are not sick at all, you are tired. If you are too tired to drive but you believe you are ok to work then I would be questioning why you couldn't get a taxi.

It is of course the prerogative of the employer to let you stay at home if they wish but they're not obliged to.

I'm an employment lawyer.

Muskateersmummy Tue 09-Feb-16 10:54:46

Hmmm then that doesn't seem very fair. I personally would rather people worked from home than spread their germs or put themselves in harms way. However are they worried people may abuse the option?

Janeymoo50 Tue 09-Feb-16 10:57:08

Ah the double standards of managers. I had one who "worked from home" about once a week as she was feeling unwell. I once had the period from hell and couldn't face the 5 hour commute that day so phoned at 9am, asked to work at home (was actually logged on to my emails) and told no (so went to bed and watched Jeremy Kyle). She did the same with flexible hours, arrived late, left late but nobody else allowed.

HeadDreamer Tue 09-Feb-16 10:59:31

redhat It's 35 miles from my house to work. No one will be paying for my taxi.

Is it too hard for you to imagine there are jobs that can be done from home? Today, with laptops, VPN, IM, and skype, it's very easy to work effectively off site. In fact, I work from home on an ad hoc basis, ranging from bad night sleep, tradesmen, delivery to children's activity. For example, I'm at home today because DD1 has a parent's meeting at 4:45.

I'm a software developer. Just because you throw around employment lawyer like a badge of honour. You can't be the only one here with a professional job. I might not earn as much as you but it doesn't mean my job (or other posters' jobs) are less meaningful.

JohnLuther Tue 09-Feb-16 10:59:54

I WFH once a week, I have a disability so it's nice to have a break from the commute and it helps me be able to be in the office for the other four days.

If they were worried about it being abused then a blanket ban would be best rather than assuming that managers won't abuse it.

Muskateersmummy Tue 09-Feb-16 11:03:39

True John.... But be careful what we wish for... The benefit that comes with being able to work from home comes with a heavy feeling of duty to work from home even when you genuinely do not feel up to it.

AnUtterIdiot Tue 09-Feb-16 11:03:56

I agree with redhat. Working from home is not the same as being off sick. If you tell your manager you're off sick, then you're self-certifying that you're not fit to work and you shouldn't be working.

3WiseWomen Tue 09-Feb-16 11:04:31

I agree with redhat.

I also have an issue with this idea that you are working from home when you are ill. If you are ill and unwell, then you should be in bed. If you are ill, have a cold, feel under the weather but can still work, then you should be at work.

I have a customer facing role so I can't WFH.
Dh can WFH and have done so on occasions. Even when he isn't ill, it means that he isn't working the full 8 hours he is supposed to do. Yes he is probbaly more efficient as not disturbed BUT the reality is that he is not working as many hours.
If someone is ill and working from home, I would expect them to work less (have longer tea breaks as they feel unwell etc...).

As to the issue raised by the OP re staff/managers, this is what I have seen in my industry. As soon as you arrive at manager's level, you get more flexibility (or the top of flexi hours) and as long as you do log in in good time, then there is no issue with you WFH (within limits of course).
Not saying it's fair though.

StarlingMurmuration Tue 09-Feb-16 11:04:59

Our company is the same - "If you're too ill to come into the office, you're too ill to work from home". In some cases this is true, and I suppose they have to have a blanket rule to avoid people taking the piss.

However, I work from home two days out of four, Monday being one of my days. I've got a stinking cold, and felt terrible yesterday - chances are I'd have taken the day off if I hadn't been working from home. It was so much nicer yesterday than today - I stayed in bed til the last minute, I wrapped up in a blanket, I wore PJs all day, and I even had a nap in my lunch hour. WFH meant I didn't spread my germs over the office and meant I was actually more productive because I felt more comfortable and rested, having avoided an hour commute at 6.30am.

Muskateersmummy Tue 09-Feb-16 11:07:33

It's not always so cut and dried... I have broken my back, I can not drive, but can do some work. I am signed off sick whilst it heals but cannot do nothing for however many weeks. So I am working from home whilst it heals. I have also done this following surgery previously which has prevented me from driving.

HeadDreamer Tue 09-Feb-16 11:08:20

I work more hours from home than in the office, just because I do not waste 2 hours on the motorway. I log in at 8am and won't be off till 5 when the children come home.

It's all well and good to say you are too ill to work and should stay in bed. The work will still be waiting for me tomorrow if I go back the next day. No one else would do it. It would just mean I have to catch up in the evenings and the weekends. So what's the point of staying in bed if I can actually get myself in front of my computer?

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