Swine Flu Fallout
April 27, 2009 5:49 PM   Subscribe

Swine flu: I have just returned this weekend from the Yucatan Peninsula Coast, Mexico. I feel fine and I am not concerned that I have contracted "the Flu". But here's my concern:

I got a call from a co-worker this am, as I was heading out the door, that they were not comfortable with me returning to the office without a visit to the doctor for a clean bill of health. (I'm not sure how my Doctor could prove this so soon and would feel rather foolish for wasting their valuable time) especially as I feel very healthy. I was a little taken aback but I also tried to see their point of view. I think as a parent they are just being extra cautious. Upon speaking with my boss immediately after wards I was basically "unofficially" asked to stay home. I agreed to work from home. For how long I'm not sure.

Maybe, meta friends can help me with this? Say there is a very small chance that I picked up the virus how long is the incubation period? What is a safe amount of time to stay out of the office? I do not want to seem like I am taking advantage of the situation.
posted by sequin to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The incubation period for influenza ranges from 1-5 days.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:51 PM on April 27, 2009

I was basically "unofficially" asked to stay home. I agreed to work from home.

Just to clarify: you're not being docked vacation or sick time, are you?
posted by scody at 6:10 PM on April 27, 2009

Didn't the OP say s/he already spoke with the boss?

Upon speaking with my boss immediately after wards I was basically "unofficially" asked to stay home.
posted by DavidNYC at 6:12 PM on April 27, 2009

Sorry - let me clarify: I would call the boss asap and discuss the specific issues of when you will come back, whether you are being docked pay, vacation time, sick time, etc., and all relevant details. I would then ask to have whatever it is that's happening put in writing.

But that is not legal advice. Just general "what I would do" type stuff. I am not your lawyer.
posted by The World Famous at 6:19 PM on April 27, 2009

Yeah, screw that unofficially crap. If they want you to stay home, fine. Have them put it in writing and make sure you're getting paid. As others have said, incubation time is similar to incubation time for the flu; 1-5 days.
posted by Justinian at 6:30 PM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

There is a Google Map of suspected and actual outbreaks which shows no reported cases in the Yucatan.
posted by zinfandel at 6:51 PM on April 27, 2009

I can clarify more.
Personally, I think my boss was OK with me returning to work today, but out of respect for my co-worker's concern she discreetly & unofficially asked me to "work" from home. A time period was just not agreed. We said we would play it by ear. They had obviously talked about this together earlier. I am guessing she probably let my co-worker instigate the phone call and then knew I would have to contact her. And yes, thankfully I will not be docked any dollars for the time out. I am working. My company is very good about this kind of thing. It's a small office. Hence, the I do not want to take advantage.......and I in return have tried to respect their concern.
posted by sequin at 6:54 PM on April 27, 2009

Have your doctor fax a letter affirming, in the abstract, that swine flu has a 96 hour incubation period. This is commonly known information and on the CDC website. Your doctor will not be putting herself at risk by saying this. Then show up to work 96 hours later.
posted by felix betachat at 8:26 PM on April 27, 2009

If the PARENT OF A SMALL CHILD asked me not to come to work in case I got them sick? I would laugh so hard I'd probably pull something. I get sick 15 times a year from bugs their damn kids bring home from daycare.

Anyway, since the "think of the children" card is so hard to trump I agree with the above and would ask for a letter and guarantee of pay and that the time was not to come out of my leave.

Then next time this woman's kid is sick? demand she stays home until it's all better and there is no chance of passing on a potentially deadly disease. That should be about 8 years from now.
posted by fshgrl at 8:51 PM on April 27, 2009 [18 favorites]

(this is a side note, because it doesn't sound like you want to antagonize the situation, but you could point out to the parent that this flu is most deadly against 18-60 year olds or so, since it's actually the immune system's overreaction that gets yah)

Are you unable to do as much work from home? You're not taking advantage of anyone if you're doing what they want, and if you're not being docked time or pay, I say respect their wishes as long as necessary.
posted by OrangeDrink at 10:16 PM on April 27, 2009

I think that we can agree that this coworker is being hysterical. Watching the news has this effect on many people. There are going to be many such instances in the workplaces.

Your best step would be to declare that if you continue to feel fine for the next two days, you will be at work. Force them to come up with another plan if they reject this one, a plan with specific days.

I have an employee, who sits right next to me, who will be returning to work next Monday, having spent two weeks on vacation in Mexico. While I will not kiss and hug him, I will also not treat him like a leper.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 6:50 AM on April 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

One of my employees returned today from Cancun and I got a request to ask him to stay home. It was only after I laughed that I realized they were serious. I don't think there is much risk to you of abusing this situation. I would think the next move belongs to your boss. If you have reasonable work-related reasons to call your boss, then do so once a day or so and let them take the lead. If they don't discuss a plan for your return, I'd ask more explicitly in three or four days.
posted by Lame_username at 8:51 AM on April 28, 2009

Orange Drink, that's not necessarily accurate for every flu strain. It was true in the 1918 pandemic. The flu is usually most dangerous for the frail, the elderly and the very young.

If you listen to the news, there's a pretty serious note of hysteria, even from well-credentialed people. Do as much work as possible, and enjoy extra vacation time. If you really, really want to, ask the boss to bring you any paperwork. Or use Microsoft Windows Remote Desktop feature to actually work. Otherwise, kick back.
posted by theora55 at 10:47 AM on April 28, 2009

Um... Schools are closed down ALL OVER the country, for at least a week and half and we're predicting longer. No one I know is sick (well, an acquaintance, but she is recovering) but everyone's pretty worried.

I know from where you are this seems very very remote, and that's why you are afraid that it might seem that you are taking advantage of the situation

But, if you can work at home and be paid, and see your doctor to get a clean bill of health, without any negative consequences, then go for it.
posted by Locochona at 1:58 PM on April 28, 2009

Is it just me, or does working from home, with permission, sound way cooler than going to the office?
posted by whimsicalnymph at 8:27 PM on April 28, 2009

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