Sunday, February 3, 2013

Norovirus proves need for paid sick days at work: isn’t it interesting that so few stories have covered illness in the workplace?

Posted By on Sun, Feb 3, 2013 at 12:22 PM

last week, Tracy commented upon how tired the young woman behind the counter looked.

Oh yes, she told us. She hd been deathly ill with the flu for some time now, but she couldn’t afford to take off work - having kids and bills she had to pay - so she dragged herself into work every day.

She was feeling a little better now, though. Thanks for asking!

I’ve been there, and so have you, probably. So sick you wish the world would simply go way, and all you want to do is either stay under the covers or sleep on the couch all day.

But as the old gambling cliche cliches, “Baby needs new shoes,” or simply needs to eat, as the case may be, so you down whatever over-the-counter medication you might have handy - probably taking two or three times what is recommended, just to stay on your feet - and shuffle out the door.

Then you drive to work and infect co-workers and customers.

With any luck, and if there is any cosmic justice left in the universe, one of those you infect will be your immediate supervisor.

For a long time in this country we have fought the war over “sick days,” and whether workers are “entitled” to them or not.

We hear a lot on the news about schools shutting down, but oddly enough, it never seems to occur to any of those who report on the stories that these children do not exist in a vacuum. They have homes to go to, where their parents or older siblings who don’t go to school may also be infected.

But we don’t cover illness in the workplace, possibly for the same reason that we don’t cover other labor stories in this country.

Why?

Well, you figure that one for yourself, Labored Reader. I suspect, though, that we don’t want to upset the apple cart. Hell, when was the last time you heard a pro-labor news story on Labor Day?

And yet, we have reached a point where we simply can’t turn our collective backs and allow people to be screwed over in this fashion; it’s okay, we can still turn our eyes away when it comes to other forms of social injustice.

But expecting employees who are sick - especially those in the food service industry - to come to work is just some sort of obscene joke, one that can have a dangerous ripple affect in the country as a whole.

What many Americans do not realize is that many workers who punch a time clock can’t simply call in sick whenever they need to; many workplaces have “point” systems, or other archaic forms of treating grown men and women like children, where you must go through the humiliation of bringing a note from the doctor to have your absence from work okayed.

Said doctor visit, of course, may often cost you almost as much as the day you took off.

Many workers have have drunk the Kool-Aid offered by corporate America, and agreed that that if working men and women are offered a certain number of paid sick days per year they will “abuse” the privilege.

Well, sometimes you just emotionally need a day off. Sometimes your job - or your boss - makes you sick at heart.

There.

I’ve done it.

I’ve committed heresy.

The problem with giving sick days to anyone who deals with the public, of course, is that workers in other industries would look at it, and see how unfair their own employers are.

Better not to even bring up the subject, and just keep getting sick. Suck on a Hall’s Cough Drop.

In the meantime, I wait in vain for the day when a news crew will go any place of business and interview employees.

******

Quote of the Day

Children are the most desirable opponents at scrabble as they are both easy to beat and fun to cheat. - Fran Lebowitz

rsdrake@cox.net

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