Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sick leave

My SO was home sick last week and we got into a discussion about what companies are trying to control and promote by having sick leave or not.  I've worked for companies that have had unlimited sick leave, a few days of leave and none at all, requiring you to take a personal day. 

We know that companies want you to show up at work as much as possible but showing up when sick just spreads your germs everywhere and results in you taking much longer to get better.  I know that I'm not nearly as productive when I'm sick, plus it's miserable, so I typically minimize all work for a couple days and sleep as much as possible to get over the bug ASAP.  However, without sick leave I've found I'm very reluctant to take this approach and use up personal leave.  Similarly,  I'm reluctant to miss classes here at school since content won't be repeated.   On the flip side I'll admit to taking a mental health day or two at the company I worked at that had unlimited sick leave.  

 So, our debate, and what I want you to weigh in on, is if restricting sick leave or having none at all actually has an economic benefit for companies or if the spreading of germs and longer duration of illness actually results in less productivity.  Do you think those with unlimited leave are suckers?

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  1. It really irks me when companies don't allow sick leave. There is nothing worse than a co-worker dragging themselves in and spreading sick everywhere. My husband has an auto-immune disease and being forced to work around sick people is especially hard on him. Productivity goes down on all level when you have that kind of energy in the office. I think it goes back to work/life balance... if you can't even take a legitimate sick day then something is out of wack on a value level for me. Too much corporate-think and not enough give and take.

    My husband had unlimited sick leave at the last job he worked at and because he valued and felt valued by the organization he never abused that policy. Again, I think it goes back to creating an environment of trust and give and take with employees.

  2. My company's HR department sends out emails reminding office staff to stay home when we're sick. Thing is, we don't get paid for staying home. And there's still work to be done. I wish I had the luxury!

  3. I receive 10 days of sick leave or personal absence a year. I d o not use it and I accumulate it to use toward retirement. In 11 years, I accumulated 115 days.

  4. I was a teacher for 4 years and we got 10 sick days a year. Especially being around germy kids, these were essential. I would never want to work at a place where management can't recognize the economic and morale costs stemming from employees who have to choose between their health and their money.

    While I think sick days are essential, even for use as "mental health" days, I do think management needs to be careful about how they message to staff the proper use of these days, and how they keep track of sick day use. I think it is important that employees are invested in coming to work every day, and management should a) provide some kind of incentive to have perfect attendance b) forestall sick day use by implementing sustainable work practices (sane hours, flexibility with remote work if possible, incentives to eating right or exercising, etc), c) show some kind of awareness about who is working and who isn't and d) meet with employees who use a lot of sick days to make sure they are ok--support them if they need it, or warn them if they abuse it.