Monday, November 13, 2006


Flu Season In Cubicle Land

Since only 57 percent of workers in the private sector get paid sick leave, the pressure is on to go to work whether you're healthy or not. If you are a temp worker or a contract worker, any day you miss is income lost, and you have even greater motivation to wobble your feverish buns back into the hot seat. As an IT consultant, I get paid on an hourly basis. Consequently, I have not taken a sick day in more than eleven years. I am scarcely alone in that stalwart mimicry of perfect health, and - I'll tell ya - my health has never been exactly perfect. Even in corporations where sick leave is available, you may not want to stay home from work because your colleagues depend on you. Downsizing has left the rank and file of many companies overworked and understaffed. If the flu is cutting its rheumy swath through your community, and you have not yet been stricken, filling in for your sick co-workers may lower your resistance through excessive stress and overwork, and you might end up sick anyway.

Corporate demands have made the workplace a greater source of contagion than ever. What can you do? Outside of following the usual precautions cited by your doctor or public service announcements, you should keep everything in your work area spotless. Clean up after yourself in the communal kitchen, and make certain not to share utensils for preparing food and beverages. For those who are sick, but must work nonetheless, telecommuting is the best option. Here is where dialing in your work duties is entirely appropriate and beneficial to everyone.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they say. Kudos go to those companies, like the Florida accounting firm Carter, Belcourt and Atkinson, that have the compassion and foresight to offer free flu vaccinations to their employees. Workers who get regular vaccinations take 43 percent fewer sick days and make 44 percent fewer visits to the doctor's office - and vaccination rates rise when shots are available at the workplace.

"It's the Season to Protect Yourself From Ill Co-workers" from The Ledger (Lakeland, Florida)

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