The Office: Germ Incubator

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I went to the office on Monday and got a sore throat (the kind that leads on to a cold, cough, etc) the next day. Flu bugs, cough bugs and all kinds of illnesses are getting passed around in the office. After the "source" of the germs has recovered, he/she gets the germs back from the other infected colleagues and the cycle goes on.

Remember during the SARS and avian flu outbreaks when anyone who had the slightest illness was sent home? I think that rule should be practised whether or not there're any contagious outbreaks.

I get the impression that employees who show up at work when they are ill are seen to be hardworking and dedicated to their jobs. At least that's what most bosses seem to think. Some companies even penalize employees for taking medical leave by linking the number of days of medical leave to their bonuses. What bosses fail to realise is that the cost of such behaviour can outweigh the benefits. Employees who are ill tend to make more mistakes on the job, they take longer to recover and therefore make even more mistakes, they feel lousy all day and morale drops and it takes more than just money to re-build morale, they infect their colleagues, and the company has to pay the medical costs of more employees.

You must have encountered some co-workers who take advantage of the medical leave entitlement - they are on medical leave often and regularly like once a month. But that's no excuse for bosses to take it out on the other employees who genuinely need to take medical leave to rest at home.

I hope more bosses would, for the good of the company, force their employees to rest at home if they're ill and, at the very least, install air-purifying systems in offices.

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