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Here Comes the Test Of Your Sick Time Policy

The flu is laying us low and taking over faster than high-profile op-eds about Honey Boo Boo, but it doesn't mean your sick co-workers are going to stay home. No, they're coming to work, anyway. Where's the scheduling Tamiflu when you need it?

Flu season is where the rubber meets the road regarding companies' "innovative" idea to merge sick days into PTO, or paid time off, a Menudo mixture of sick days, vacation days and personal time all lumped together into one confusing time bank. Today, all across our great country, employees are coming down with the first symptoms of seasonal flu but they don't want to use their valuable vacation days to fight it. I only have a few chills, and I'm not THAT warm. I'll go ahead and go to work, because I've already booked that seven-day trip to Key West in April! Great, thanks, now two-thirds of the office will get sick today, too.

Or maybe a manager has spent the last year griping whenever an employee took a sick day. Now employees really do need sick days but they're coming to work -- assuming they can get to work -- either out of fear or out of spite. Maybe it's time for some one-on-one time with the boss? I brought you a cup of coffee and a bagel. They're on your desk, boss, right next to the keyboard. No really, you're welcome! I hope it's okay that I used your phone.

Cough.

Unfortunately, I'm not making the above example up; it's among the stories I've read online posted by anonymous, angry, sick employees. Ahh-choooooo!

Today is the day to tell employees to stay home if they start to feel sick; to remind them about telecommuting; to plan a few contingencies for the next few weeks should the majority of employees fall ill; and in general, to realize that this is one nasty humdinger of a flu. Tamiflu can lessen the symptoms, but not completely.

You might also think about how PTO policies could be exacerbating flu season in your workplace, and how you can develop a sick time policy if you don't have one.

Or you can simply fake it as a manager. Don't talk about all the lost productivity, show some short-term compassion. Remember, the best managers are very good at faking it. You got your flu shot, right?

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