A minor rant regarding presenteeism

Ok, this is my first rant, and it’s a minor one to be sure, but I hereby Pit all of my presentee coworkers. Of the five cubes immediately adjacent/diagonal from me, I am currently surrounded by five coughing, gagging coworkers who I just wish would stay at home. About twenty feet away, I have another presentee who “had some sort of stomach bug going through the house yesterday”. Apparently he didn’t learn his lesson after he blessed us all with his pneumonia inflicted presence in the fall. I’m not saying I have conclusive evidence that it was him, as I’m not even sure how effectively pneumonia is transfered, but two other people in the office came down with it within a week, and one was out for two weeks. Bravo Typhoid Bob*, I’m sure that your meaningless contribution those few days was worth the loss of perhaps our most important team member for two weeks.

My office has a fairly liberal work-from-home policy. Why the hell don’t these people make use of that, and avoid infecting the rest of us? Who do they think they’re kidding? The vast majority of them aren’t important enough to “have to be here” on any given day.

*Name changed to protect the innocent (me, in case someone from work reads this)

I get angry when folks come in sick, and I’ve been known to cast “What the fuck were you thinking?” looks at people when they come in sick.

Our infrastructure was set up deliberately to make it easy for people to work from home, and unless people have client or vendor meetings, there’s almost no reason for them to be here. With IP phones and remote access, clients usually can’t even tell when we’re working remotely. We generally don’t even keep track of sick days unless someone really starts abusing the system, which has occurred precisely once in our 5-year history. Still, people insist on coming in when they feel yucky. If they look sick when they get here, I give them the aforementioned “WTF?” look and tell them to turn around and go home for the day.

At my old workplace, the policy for salaried employees was generous - but the office culture and management expectations, not so much. If I had taken off work when I was ever sick, I would have suffered when it came to promotion and raise time (as infrequent as those were) as well as been given less respect. In that workplace, coming in ill was just expected.

Consequently, illness ran rampant, but the managers could proudly tout their employees’ dedication. :rolleyes:

Are any of them mothers of school-age kids? A lot of moms save their sick days for when Junior or MaryAlice are sick - and then stay home with them.

Of course, when these sick days run out, not only do the employees come in sick, they sometimes bring a sick Junior or MaryAlice in with them. I found a kid one day - lying in a vacant cube - with a sleeping bag, a pillow, a stuffed animal and a fever. :eek:


My SO’s company won’t let anyone take off time for anything short of death. On Valentine’s Day we got 3 feet fo snow in 24 hours. He went in, and he said HR was counting heads to see who made it, and whomever didn’t got penalized. If you’re sick, it’s seriously going to fuck up your next week if you stay home for even a day…

I don’t get this attitude at all.

Nope, in fact only two of them are parents of school aged kids and they’re both men. At any rate, I don’t buy the “saving them for when my kids are sick” defense around here, not that anyone has claimed that. The unofficial policy in my department is liberal enough to allow the parents to work from home on such occasions.

I believe that with the increasing media attention to epidemics and the possibility thereof, that we’re soon going to start seeing government regulations that require companies to not only offer more generous sick leave, but require them to enforce mandatory sick leave. When the Flesheating Asian Norwalk Flu that’s finally going to kill us all shows up, it’s going to vector like wildfire through high density cubicle farms. We’re already seeing companies that have finally figured out germ theory and realized that the productivity of sick people isn’t worth having the whole department sick by week’s end, and started encouraging sick employees to just stay home.

I’m seeing the opposite. Each of my most recent employers has combined sick time with vacation time, and you get dinged a vacation day any time you’re sick. This policy practically screams at people to come into the office no matter how sick they are (because who wants to give up precious vacation days?), and gets predictable results (sniffling and barfing in the office).

That may be a difference between Canada and the US–I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a company combining vacation and sick leave here, probably because we have mandatory vacation time. Some don’t provide sick leave, mind you, which is effectively the same thing as giving you 2 weeks of combined leave time, since you end up taking vacation days to cover sick days, but an actual policy of combining the two doesn’t seem to be common.

I think it might be more of a case of inadequate sick time or shortsighted management expectation of heroics that drives this. Most folks, if they have the sick time and their managers aren’t Type A assholes, would prefer to stay home when they’re sick. I think a culture change in companies and management, along with a “don’t come to work sick” law should happen. I’m not holding my breath, though.

[hijack]BTW, didn’t a bunch of people fight and die for a 40 hour work week back in the 30s or something? I think that workers today should honor that tradition by standing up to management dickheads on matters like this…[/hijack]

I hope the next time he’s sick he goes in and coughs on the HR person. :stuck_out_tongue:

My company just posted something on our internal home page saying do not come in if you are sick. I just found out what our sick day policy is - and only because I was answering a survey on benefits, and it was hard to know if it was good if I didn’t know what it was.

In an old company, they used to have an award lunch for perfect attendance, but they finally cancelled it when they decided it was driving bad behavior.

If I’m sick, and I work, I’m going to make so many mistakes that it will take more than a day to fix them.

Freddy - this doens’t make sense to me - my company did that too - they now have PTO. Personal Time Off. We don’t have “sick days” or “vacation days” - we have “PTO”.

We haven’t lost any days - they are combined - so if I used to have 10 sick days and 14 vacation days, now I have 24 PTO days. So I’m not using any “vacation” time if I’m sick. Did your company just take away the sick days altogether? That would seriously suck.

Well, you might not have “lost” any vacation days if you take a sick day, but for many people the result is effectively the same.

You get 24 days a year.

You get sick.

You know that if you stay home, that’s one of your 24 days gone.

You decide that you’d prefer to spend your days off playing golf or going to the movies, rather than sniffling under a blanket on the couch.

You decide that you might as well go in to work.

This is how lots of people think about combined vacation/sick days.

I wonder if your SO and I work together. My company is exactly like this. There is no such thing as too much snow. There is no such thing as too sick to come to work.

Once, I was in a car accident on the way to work. The car was not driveable. When I called in the Manager said, “So, does this mean you are going to be late? We already have someone out so you can’t take personal time.” When I told her that I had to wait for the tow truck and I was going home because I was pretty shook up and a little banged up, she was not happy.

I can’t remember the last time I took off due to illness. If I take a day off with the flu, there is no reason for my staff to all work, so they lose money. Plus, if I stay home when I am ill, I lay around and feel sick. I would rather take a planned day off and do some kayaking.

What type of job do you have such that your staff cannot work without you? Perhaps a doctor’s office or something? Around here, plenty of work gets done even when my boss is out. For me, staying home when I am just marginally sick is doubly beneficial. I don’t go infect my coworkers, and if I work from home I typically get more done in four hours than I do in eight at the office, just due to the lack of uncontrollable distractions. If I’m actually too sick to work, I’ll take a sick day, but if I’m just moderately ill, I’ll work from home.

I have the damnedest time explaining to students that not only is it OK to skip lessons if you have something like strep throat, I want them the hell away from me. My studio is about thirty square feet; I can’t count the number of times students have come in, closed the door, and said “I was wondering if I can skip today; I think I have strep.” USE THE DAMN PHONE.

I finally put it in my syllabus.

Yep, veterinary practice with one veterinarian (me) who generates enough work for a relatively large support staff.

Ah, then I can understand your reluctance to be out sick. My capable-of-working-from-home coworkers however, not so much.

That’s what I’m talking about; it’s the same way here. And mhendo pretty much nails how people react to it.

In fairness, you get more PTO days than a typical American employer would give as vacation days. As a new employee I get 19 days. But once you tell me I’m getting 19 days, I start making plans for those days. And I start thinking, “If I call in sick today, I’ll have to cancel that weekend trip to Kansas City. Or, I’ll have to work the day after Christmas.” Which means I’m going to have to be pretty damn sick before I stay home.