If you’re sick, stay home

Thanks to the H1N1 virus, society is finally coming to understand how critical it is to prevent the spread of viral infections.

Thanks to the H1N1 virus, society is finally coming to understand how critical it is to prevent the spread of viral infections.

It’s unfortunate that it took a real global threat to finally bring home the message. But the message should now be clear: if you are sick, stay home for the protection of those around you in the workplace and at school.

For generations, children have been sent to school with fevers, running noses, sneezing and coughing. These are the symptoms of a very sick child. Why aren’t they kept at home?

Put them in a crowded classroom environment and the potential to spread that virus to other children is immense.

From there, some of those classmates bring the virus home and pass it on to their parents and siblings.

In turn, parents report to their workplace displaying the same symptoms and pose the same potential to spread the virus to co-workers. And the cycle continues.

Some employees, particularly in Alberta, are afraid to call in sick for fear of lost wages — or worse, if their employers believe the sickness is not genuine.

But finally, with this recent virus scare, we have realized that a sick child in a classroom, or a sick person in the workplace, poses a serious hazard to others.

It’s amazing this has taken so long to sink in.

Adults missing work due to illness, for example, have been penalized by reduced wages, or no wages at all — penalized by a public health problem in great part created by those refusing to stay home and nurse their illness.

According to Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan, Albertans need better protection under the Employment Standards Code. “The employment standards codes in six other Canadian jurisdictions give workers the protections they need,” McGowan said this week. “All of those codes say that workers cannot be disciplined, demoted or dismissed for taking time off work because of short-term illness. The Alberta code, on the other hand, doesn’t say anything at all about sick leave. As a result, workers whose employers don’t independently provide paid or unpaid sick leave — and we think that’s a majority or workers in Alberta — face the prospect of being punished for doing the right thing.”

McGowan has asked for an emergency meeting with Employment Minister Hector Goudreau in an effort to have the provincial code changed quickly.

Certainly the problem also requires some measure of understanding among employers, particularly for those employees with children. If a child is too sick to go to school and child care is not available, what are the options for parents? Send the child to school anyway or stay home to care for your child, regardless of the consequences. Often parents in such circumstances are penalized by lost wages or worse.

It is time we got over the archaic mindset that praised employees who reported for duties while ill. They were applauded by the bosses as being “real troopers” because, apparently, showing up for work under such dire physical circumstances was a reflection on their devotion to the job.

Little, if any, regard was afforded to co-workers expected to perform their duties beside an ill co-worker. Then, if a concerned worker refused to work under such unhealthy conditions and walked out, his pay was in jeopardy.

But now the message is clear, thanks in part to the medical community that has emphasized a sick child does not belong in the classroom and a sick worker does not belong on the job.

In Ontario, doctors have urged employers to dump the mandatory doctor’s note if someone calls in sick. Obtaining such a note is counter-productive, forcing sick people to venture out when they should be in bed, not bringing the virus into public places.

Schools and workplaces can expect higher-than-normal absenteeism this year.

But by staying home, those who are ill are preventing a far more serious outbreak.

Rick Zemanek is an Advocate editor.

Just Posted

Red Deer group looking to keep roads safe for cyclists

A Red Deer cycling group is concerned about road safety after multiple… Continue reading

Smoke and pets do not mix

Take care of your pets during the smoky weather

Former Red Deer lawyer sentenced

Charges included possession of stolen property

WATCH: Raising money for kids at the Gord Bamford Charity Golf Classic

Former NHL players, Olympians, pro rodeo circuit members and musicians teed off… Continue reading

Canadian soccer captain Christine Sinclair continues to lead fight against MS

TORONTO — Christine Sinclair continues to have an impact on and off… Continue reading

In Franklin’s anthems, women heard an empowering message

NEW YORK — Aretha Franklin never saw herself as a feminist heroine.… Continue reading

Happy birthday Boler: 100s of cute campers in Winnipeg for anniversary gathering

WINNIPEG — Angela Durand sits outside her camper which is decorated to… Continue reading

Merkel, Putin share a headache: Donald Trump

FRANKFURT — German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin will… Continue reading

Tim Hortons says its China expansion will include menu with congee, matcha

TORONTO — The president of Tim Hortons says a plan to conquer… Continue reading

Trump suggests Canada has been sidelined from latest NAFTA negotiations

OTTAWA — U.S. President Donald Trump is suggesting Canada has deliberately been… Continue reading

Photographer files complaint with police after alleged assault while on the job

TORONTO — A Toronto newspaper photographer said he opted to file a… Continue reading

Annual inflation rate jumped to 3.0% in July, highest reading since 2011

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says higher gasoline prices helped push the country’s… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month