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Ill people at work...

(31 Posts)
Starbuck999 Fri 31-Dec-10 14:45:01

My best friend work in a large open plan office. She works for a relatively small company but they are really hot on their employees taking time off sick.

My friend was ill over Xmas and had a week off work (flu). She returned to work Monday and they had a meeting and gave her a bit of a dressing down. She pointed out that due to the pressure of not taking sick days loads of people working in the office really are not well enough to be there. Not just every day colds (which most of us happily go into work with) but people looking absoluetly awful, constant coughing, spluttering, bright red streaming eyes, drowsy etc - basically like they should only be at home in bed! Also people at work vomitting and 2 girls were there the week before last with D&V. The management there will not "send" staff home, they have to choose to go. Her manager said it is down to the individual to decide if they want to work, and that however ill someone is the company have no right to make someone go home and take a sick day.

AIBU to say that this is terrible?!? Surely from an infection control point of view people with D&V (especially) shouldnt be in the work place. Surely the company have a duty of care to their staff and that should include making sure they aren't forced to work with people who are very ill and infectious- ie D&V? Ive told her to speak to her union rep and report it - perhaps there is something in employment law about infection control in these situations..

Or maybe not?

MassiveKnob Fri 31-Dec-10 14:46:53

D&V should be 48 hours clear of last squitt or vom before returning to the workplace.


skirt Fri 31-Dec-10 14:47:54

I think that if you are old enough to work, then you are old enough to take responsibility for yourself and shouldnt expect a grown up to make decisions for you.

brassick Fri 31-Dec-10 14:49:24

Don't know about the legal aspect of these things (although perhaps I should know a bit more than I do), but I am certainly of the opinion that people should not be at work if they are not well.

I think it is always possible to work out those who are taking the mick, and deal with them individually, rather than have a reign of terror type atmosphere where people don't dare take time off.

Maybe I am too trusting and naive, maybe it will come back to bite me one day, but I couldn't manage my staff any other way.

Starbuck999 Fri 31-Dec-10 14:52:19

Oh of course not skirt.. the problem is people there are so worried about having sick days that they are forcing themselves to work when they are genuinely ill.

That then puts all the other employees in a crap situation as they then have to work alongside genuinely ill people (including d&v) putting themselves at a risk much higher than normal or becoming ill themselves.

CarGirl Fri 31-Dec-10 14:53:29

I think actually they do have the right to send people home if they are sick, I remember looking into this when a colleague was having mental health problems. I think it was to do with a detrimental affect on others you need a HR expert though to clarify the law.

panettoinydog Fri 31-Dec-10 14:59:35

People at work with d&V? Bleurgh. Who would do that?

I'd rather face a mild dressing down than vom and bomb at work.

Xenia Fri 31-Dec-10 15:01:33

One way to deal with all the malingers in the Bristiwh work place (and there are huge numbers of them) is as many employers do, not to pay people when off sick and just leave SSP to kick in after day 3. Does this company pay? Even though with that you can lose productivity.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Fri 31-Dec-10 15:02:38

That's a good point, CarGirl... does this company have a HR person at all? Really, they should be in attendance at the 'return to work' interview to ensure that guidelines are followed and that the employee is fit to return to work.

It's all very well for the company to say that they can't send employees home but by the sound of it, they certainly bring pressure to bear should an employee choose to take sick leave when they are ill. This is very unreasonable, it's like 'you can if you want to but there will be consequences'. Who would want that hanging over them?

There's a journal called 'Personnel Today'. If you google it, you'll see there's a forum and you or your friend can ask advice there without fear of consequence. I'd be very wary of your friend taking this further as the company probably doesn't belong to a trades union and your friend shouldn't risk her job in this climate.

Lindax Fri 31-Dec-10 15:03:07

our management also does not "send staff home" when sick. we have an occupational heath person on site too and they also so not "send staff home" it is up to the individual to decide if they can work or not.

I have suspisions (due to the management/HR covering our own arses and stuff the staff style of the company I work for) this is probably due to protecting themselves if they have future issues with employees attendance records where an employee can say they wanted to work but were told to go home.

Starbuck999 Fri 31-Dec-10 15:03:33

It's not a mild dressing down though panettointydog- If they have more than 7 sick days in 12 months they get put onto an "action plan". Then they have the next 12 months of their sickness under review - if they take more than 7 days sick in the following 12 months they are put onto a last stage warning, during that time they are unable to apply for promotion, secondments, overtime etc.

It's pretty crap as far as I'm concerned. Ive told her to get in touch with the union.

curlymama Fri 31-Dec-10 15:04:39

I think this company are wrong to put so much pressure on people to be there when they are sick. It's wrong, for lots of very valid reasons.

However I don't think they should have to send someone home. These people are grown us and should be able to make that descision for themselves. If they can't, they really can't expect an non medically qualified manager to do it for them.

CarGirl Fri 31-Dec-10 15:04:39

Personally I'd rather not get sick pay then feel I had to go into work when I was that sick or that contagious. could you imagine your guilt if you passed it onto someone immuno compromised and it killed them shock

Starbuck999 Fri 31-Dec-10 15:05:15

Thanks all for your thoughts by the way - LWATW - I will give her that site to look at.

skirt Fri 31-Dec-10 15:05:28

But still they arent being responsible themselves are they? Though I do understand in this economic climate some folks are nervous about their jobs, and this is a symptom sometimes.

Starbuck999 Fri 31-Dec-10 15:07:32

CarGirl - Exactly, friend has a young baby, who she really doesnt want to pass things onto - the risk is so much higher for those who are immuno compromised, or perhaps have a child at home who is!

Curlymama - The point I am trying to make is although people should be responsible for their own sickness, and whether they are fit to work, surely if they are infectious they need to be told by management that they must not be at work as they are putting other employees at risk.

skirt Fri 31-Dec-10 15:08:13

7 days sick in 12 months though is a lot. If my staff had 7 periods of 1 day sick in 12 months, I'd expect them to buck their ideas up too. It all depends on what's the matter with them though, being sick for short periods and often is so disruptive.

CarGirl Fri 31-Dec-10 15:12:13

I had a small minor op but ended up signed off for 2 weeks as the morphine and GA didn't agree with me, the 3rd week I returned on reduced duties. I was really unwell couldn't think straight and shattered - that was effectively 12.5 days sick in 1 month let alone 12!

HMTheQueen Fri 31-Dec-10 15:13:13

7 days sick in 12 months doesn't seem much to me...

I had 2 weeks of earlier this year with chicken pox (thanks DS!) and then a few more days for a D&V bug. So I've had probably double those 7 days... all legitimate illnesses, but I coulld not have come into work.

Thankfully my boss is very understanding and appreciates that when you are sick, you are sick.

theevildead2 Fri 31-Dec-10 15:13:41

Adults should be responsible for sending themselves home (and not feel that it will be frowned on if they go home early) but if someone chooses to take a nasty illness to work, I have a right to not be exposed surely? As a well person I can not choose to take the day off, can I? So managment should step in and make sure I healthy work place.

curlymama Fri 31-Dec-10 15:13:44

The management aren't the ones putting the other employees at risk though. The people with the infectious bugs are. It doesn't usually take 7 (working) days to get over a d&v bug.

HMTheQueen Fri 31-Dec-10 15:13:50

Maybe 7 periods of sickness is a lot though... hmmm I guess it depends on how you look at it confused

HMTheQueen Fri 31-Dec-10 15:15:57

argh! 2 weeks off could

argh! proofread, proofread!

Starbuck999 Fri 31-Dec-10 15:16:15

Of course skirt - But 7 days over 1 or 2 periods is perfectly normal...

I also has chicken pox 3 years ago HMThe Queen, 2 weeks off work, there's no option really. So had I worked for friends company then Id have been forced to accept a sickness action plan! How stupid! I sat and spoke to her in length about this and it doesn't matter at all if you have a doctors certificate to prove the sickness. Even if you are hospitalised, it's all classed as sickness.

Ephiny Fri 31-Dec-10 15:16:34

Is it the sort of job where you can work from home? That's often a good compromise when someone is not sick enough to be in bed, but really shouldn't be in the office spreading their germs around and annoying everyone with their coughing! I usually work from home if I have a cold or stomach bug and it's never been a problem.

I am shock that the OPs friend got told off for being off work with flu, if you have actual flu (not man-flu) you are really in no state at all to be going to work, many people are barely able to get out of bed!

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