In the first part of this post, I wrote about a co-worker who was sick with something very contagious, and in spite of having paid sick time, decided to come into work anyway, putting all of us at risk, perhaps myself even more. So, in spite of her having the means to stay home and recover, she chose not to do the right thing and come into work.
After some thought, I was considering a third part, but will include that section with this post.
The next example I want to give also involves co-workers who also have sick pay available to them, but instead have an employer that has a disincentive to use that sick pay, reprimands. And we are not just talking slaps on the wrist. It was a progressive ladder that once you took more than three sick days in a year, you got a warning. Miss one more day in that same year, you received a verbal reprimand. Another day missed, you got a 1-day suspension. Another day, a 5-day suspension. Call out again in that year, you could be terminated.
The average worker could have up to 10 days a year of sick pay. But what good is it, if you are going to be punished for using them.
As was the case of a co-worker who came into work with pink-eye, another highly contagious illness, though not as severe to me as a risk as strep is. Rather than risk a harsh punishment for calling out sick (he had used sick time for other occurrences during the year so he was in the higher level of discipline range), he made the decision to come to work.
So again, what is the right thing we are expected to do? Did the employee do the right thing for himself, or his co-workers? Is the employer doing the right thing by dissuading employees from legitimately using sick time?
Having the amount of health issues that I have, I was definitely not popular at work, with my co-workers or my supervisors. I missed a lot of time, either due to frequent doctor appointments, or health emergencies that came up. No one denied that they were real, but they definitely let me know that it was a pain in the ass, and it was not fair to them. That’s right, I was going through these health emergencies, and that was not fair to them.
Now, my attendance issue is a bit involved, because I know my rights when it comes to the Family Medical Leave Act, and the Americans With Disabilities Act (a separate post). But because I knew my rights, I survived the punitive chain of reprimands that others chose to accept.
One example. My 1st heart surgery.
Besides of the traumatic surgery, the healing was going to take longer than usual because of my exposure to radiation during my treatment days. FMLA which protected my job from being terminated for up to 60 days, would not be enough time. And as those protected days expired, my employer wasted no time in sending me letters as notice of reprimands, if I did not return to work. I was not cleared by my cardiologist to return, and in fact, was not expected to be cleared for another three months.
The ADA would protect me, by requiring my employer to accommodate any health restrictions I would need, but my employer was not budging on that either. They felt that they had an opportunity to get rid of someone who had a poor attendance record, regrettably so. While I could fight for my ADA rights, if I were terminated, financially I was already dealing with the economic crash of 2008, I could not do without a paycheck while I fight for my ADA rights.
I convinced my cardiologist to return me to work sooner than I was prepared, and without restrictions. I would rely on my co-workers to help me get by until I was healed.
Expecting someone to do the right thing.
The final example, what about someone who does not have paid sick time available? There are plenty of people in that situation today. You don’t go to work, you don’t get paid. No matter how they feel, even if they are dealing with something as serious as cancer, they must go into work because otherwise would be financially devastated and unable to recover from the snowballing effect of falling behind in bills.
This is what concerns me about government officials, and some others who voice their opinions about CDC recommendations concerning dealing with Covid19. Rather than us all working with each other, to use minimal efforts of wearing a mask and socially distance, instead those against actually mandating these efforts, the defense is to let people “do the right thing.”
But as in the prior examples, it is not always easy or possible to do what is considered the right thing, let alone determine what is the right thing. And with those examples, by no means did they produce devastating losses such as Covid19 has left us with, and showing no end in sight. Clearly, people need to be encouraged to do the right thing, but it has to be done by the right person, or people, and it is not. So, just as my example in part 1, leaving us up to determine ourselves what is the right thing, the losses are going to end up greater, because just as my co-worker in part 1, some just do not care about anyone else but themselves.