Sick-shaming picks up this cold and flu season

Across the office-scape, where many workers are packed into an open environment with shared desk space that puts them nearly shoulder to shoulder, sniffling and sneezing co-workers complain about achy muscles and general malaise all within virus-spreading distance.

The healthy have had it, The Wall Street Journal reports.

This cold and flu season, workers are striking back against coughing colleagues who insist on coming to work—even if their employers provide paid sick days. Some offer cough drops, others break out the disinfectant.

They light up Slack channels and start email and text chains asking for etiquette advice. “Is it acceptable to shout ‘GO HOME’ at a co-worker who won’t stop coughing,” one employee wondered on Twitter.

Staying away from the office when you’re ill can help you get better and keeps you from becoming a pariah among co-workers. So why do sick people come into work if they can take paid time off?

In the U.S., about a third of private-sector workers lack paid sick leave, the Labor Department reported last year. No federal sick-leave law exists.
“Presenteeism” is what academics call it. Some do it because of love of a job, insecurity about taking time off, a heavy workload or feelings of moral obligation, says Gary Johns, a business professor at the University of British Columbia who studies the topic.

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