I'm a supervisor, and one of my staff was out sick all last week with the flu. This week she is back, but coughing, hacking and sneezing loudly. When asked about it, she stated that she had allergies. I don't want her to infect the office, but am not sure how to pursue the conversation with her. Help?
posted by It's a Parasox to Work & Money (31 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My staff person is an incredibly private person. She also has in the past, when she began to get sick, stated that 'it wasn't that bad', only to come down with something that had her out for a few days. Her taking sick leave isn't the problem - that is what it is there for. Getting her work done in her absence isn't a problem - the team can handle it. Replacing her isn't an issue - she's a strong worker.
But it seems like she is in denial, and sort of defensive about it. A week and a half ago, when she began to get sick, she just coughed all over the office, until final two or three staff people, including myself, convinced her to go home. It was a friday, and she said at the time that she hoped to kick it by Monday, although if you'd heard her, you'd be under the impression that she wasn't accurately assessing the situation. She ended up being out for a week - each day sending emails that she was probably going to be better the next day.
So today, she was back in the office, and coughing up a storm. When I asked her about it, through menthol-y breath, she insisted she had allergies.
I realize that I need to check in with myself about why this is so uncomfortable. Personally, I realize this is a hang up - I hate it when people claim not to be sick, and are sick, and then infect everyone else, in a patient zero situation. Also, I really don't want everyone else in the office to get sick either. On the other hand, if it's allergies, it's allergies. Also, who am I to diagnose someone? But back to the first hand - I know if I get sick over the next few days, I am going to be incredibly resentful - even though I know I won't be able to prove that she had anything to do with it.
I want to wait to see how she's doing tomorrow, but if it continues, or such a situation happens again, what's the best way to approach this? I will check with HR about requiring her to go home, or getting a doctor's note, but I'd like to try to clearly state the position that I want to protect the office, and her. Sometimes you just need to stay in bed and rest until you really are better.
So, anyone ever had to have this conversation? Anyone had anyone have this conversation with their boss? Any ideas on how to handle it? I'm in the states, and work at a college, if it matters.
Going now to go grab some vitamin C. I know it won't help, but I can dream.