Should I Go To Work With A Cold? Or Is It Better For Everyone To Stay At Home?


“I beg you, go home!” The boss told me. “Everyone complains about you and does not want to get infected with your disgusting virus.”

To my assurances that this is just a cold and that I do not feel so bad, no one paid attention. I had to give up, otherwise I would be taken out of the news department under white hands.

Yes, I did not feel 100%, but I was sure that I was not so sick that I had to spend the whole day under the covers.

Forget about “Brexit”, nothing has split my friends, colleagues and friends in social networks so much as arguing about whether you cannot go to work if you sneeze?

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Some said: "For God's sake, pull yourself together, it's just a cold!". Others agreed: "Yes, this is a difficult question." And others asked: "How dare you infect your colleagues! You are an egoist."

I came across a fork where labor laws, ethical principles and public health clash.

Good and bad colds

We face colds everywhere - in a tram, in a supermarket, in the playground. And even if you are not going to never leave the house at all, you will still get infected from someone from her.

Then I thought, why are so many worried then? After all, is this just normal in winter?

“The common cold is a viral disease, and different people react differently to it. Some people feel very bad when they catch a cold,” says Rachel Saff from the Institute for Personnel Development (CIPD).

"If you really feel bad, and your symptoms indicate that you will not be productive at work, then it is better to stay at home. So you will not spread your viruses at work," she continues.

Many viruses cause a cold, but the most common are rhinoviruses.

Professor Martin Marshall, head of the Royal College of General Practitioners, agrees that different people respond differently to colds.

But should we avoid colds at all costs? Don't these viruses strengthen our immune system?

Professor Peter Openshaw, former head of the British Society of Immunology, has been researching this issue for the past 25 years and says that a cold can be beneficial to the general health of the body, but not always.

It turned out that there is a good cold, and there is a bad cold.

“I’ve been trying all my life to figure out which of these viruses are beneficial. Because some of them seem to train the immune system,” he says.

But what about those with weakened immunity?

One of my colleagues told me: "When my mother became seriously ill with cancer, I started to have a pulmonary infection, which I got from a colleague, and I could not visit her for three weeks. I had to hire a nurse."

Although she admits that she could have been infected anywhere, she insists that sitting at a desk opposite a constantly sneezing person is far from the best option.

Professor Marshall. People with colds, especially those who work with sick people, children, and pregnant women, need to consider whether they should go to work sneezing and coughing.

Hayley Johnson, Slater and Gordon's labor law attorney, recalls that for patients suffering from cystic fibrosis who have recently undergone chemotherapy, the consequences of a cold can be extremely serious.

Has the attitude to colds changed in recent years?

Yes, it seems.

The CPID Institute notes that, according to surveys of personnel departments, the number of days people take sick leave on average fell to 5.9 per year, that is, to the lowest level in the last 19 years when the institute began to conduct such surveys.

83% of human resources workers report seeing people sick at work. 63% saw employees go to work, although they were on vacation.

Rachel Saff claims that it all depends on working conditions. "It is known that many people are already struggling with this. They understand that if they spend several days at home, they will expect even more work upon their return."

Haley Johnson says that in recent years, employers have become more closely monitoring the level of illness of their employees, especially when they often stay at home for several days.

In her opinion, companies are trying to reduce costs as much as possible, as a result of which each employee works for one and a half people.

Often, many people think that they simply have to go to work despite their illness.

Does it all depend on the employer?

"If someone has a cold, then we send them home," says Paul Knowles of Acoustic and Engineering Consultants Ltd.

“There are only six of us, and if three cannot work because of the common cold, it will be very difficult for us to fulfill customer orders,” he says.

Mike Cherry, chairman of the Small Business Federation (FSB), encourages small business employees not to be afraid to raise a health issue with their employer.

“9 out of 10 employers provide an opportunity to work in a flexible mode,” he said. “For example, if a person feels bad but is able to do something, it is often easier to let him work from home for the duration of his illness.”

The hardest thing is for freelancers and individual entrepreneurs, Cherry notes.

"The law on compulsory provision of free time does not apply to them, and they have a habit of working no matter what, whatever the consequences," he says.

Can I get fired for a cold?

"In the end, even if employees can get out of bed, this does not mean that they can work," notes Hayley Johnson. “Doctors give help without a problem even in cases where it would seem that we are talking about a patient with only a minor infection.”

"For 10 years of my work as a lawyer, I only once encountered a company that required a certificate in all cases. Almost all companies believe that if a sick person stays home for five days, then everything is in order and a certificate is needed only after this period," she says.

Hayley Johnson offers a simple approach - employers and employees must trust each other.

“An employer can fire a subordinate if he is sure that he is lying. As an example, she described a hypothetical situation when a person called to say that he was ill and stayed at home, and then on social networks posted photos of himself drinking champagne in a bar.

But the fact that the vast majority of employers perceive as true the words of subordinates that they are sick, indicates a high level of trust on both sides.

So what do I understand?

Having examined all aspects of this problem, I came to the conclusion that I was lucky with work and that I should remember: the immunity of some people is lowered.

And if I picked up something contagious, maybe I should be kind to treat myself and others and work from home until everything goes well.

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