company refuses to let us come in with minor colds, coworker sends reminders about emails right after they’re sent, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My company refuses to let us come in sick, even with minor colds

I graduated from college last year and started a full-time job in December. Last week I came down with a bit of a cold, but I wasn’t feeling too terrible so I did go to work. However, my manager sent me home when he saw I was sick. He told me company policy dictates that anyone with a contagious illness (cold, flu, etc.) is not under any circumstances allowed to come in. He said I would be given paid sick time and had to stay home until all signs of my cold were gone. He said the policy applies to everyone, including the CEO.

I am over my cold now except for a bit of stuffiness, but I’m still not allowed to return to work even though I am no longer contagious. The company does not allow working from home at all, so I can’t even get work done or off to help anything while I am away. I work in an office; it’s not like I work in a hospital with immune-compromised people.

My manager said that I won’t be penalized for coming in sick because it was my first time, but in the future I am expected to stay home when I am sick and not come in at all. The company automatically grants paid sick time to anyone with a contagious illness because they are not allowed to come in. At the part-time job and internships I had in college, there was nothing like this and people came in sick all the time. This seems wasteful to me because I could be at work getting things done instead of sitting at home. Is it normal for a workplace to make you stay home if you show any signs of being sick?

What’s more normal is feeling pressured to come in, getting other people sick, and not getting enough paid sick leave to stay home when you’re sick … so this is actually a pretty great policy. It sounds like they’ve taken it to somewhat of an extreme (if they don’t even want you coming in post-cold with just a little stuffiness), but of all the extremes they could go to, this is a pretty fantastic one. If they weren’t paying for the time away, that would be problematic — but they are! They’re protecting other employees, letting you rest, and paying you to do it.

Do not complain about this. This is the holy grail of sick leave policies.

2. My coworker sends me reminders about emails as soon as they are sent

I could use some help with wording to politely tell a coworker, Jane, who does great work and who I like very much, to stop pointing me to emails I just received a minute ago (or less).

Jane works remotely, and we’ve only met once, but we’re working closely together on a project for the first time. I am the overall project manager, while she works more directly with the client. Every once in a while, the client will contact me directly about something, and when she does, I will immediately receive a message from Jane via our company chat application asking if I saw the email. Not giving me background or context that might be helpful — she just wants to make sure I see the email as soon as it comes in.

I am not someone who takes my time in answering email. I am very responsive and will answer within the same day, if not within the same hour or less. I can only assume that Jane has a made a habit of this with people who are less organized with their email accounts (and we have a few of those in our company), but it irks me when I am in the middle of reading or responding to the client only to receive a message telling me to look at it. I will let Jane know that “yes, I’m reading it now” or “I’m responding right now,” but is there a polite way I can tell her to stop sending me these reminders?

Ugh, yes. How annoying. Say this to her: “I’ve noticed you’ll often check to make sure I saw an email from a client, right after it’s come in. I’m really on top of my email, so I’d rather you not check with me since that distracts me from actually answering the email! Can you assume that I’ve seen it and I’m on it, unless there’s some specific reason not to?”

Then if she keeps doing it after that, reply by saying, “Again, I need to ask you not to send me these sorts of messages. They end up causing more work, and I stay on top of my email.” That will probably stop them, but if it doesn’t, I’d just start ignoring them and she’ll hopefully get the message at that point.

3. Enforcing a four-hour minimum as a freelancer

I am a freelancer with a client base of a few regular firms. Mostly I work from home, but sometimes a client will ask me to come on site to work in the office. I have a four-hour minimum policy when I am asked to come on site. I always explain this policy in writing prior to my first assignment with a new client. This practice is very common among freelancers in my industry.

Two of my clients respect my policy. If they ask me to come on-site at say, 8 a.m., they will keep me on site until noon or later. One of my clients is much less agreeable about my terms. Here’s an example: They schedule me to come in at 8 a.m. I arrive, I work 8-10. There’s a lull and they ask me to stay for another 30 minutes, then an hour, thinking more work will come in. Nothing comes in. I go home. So, I was physically in their office for three hours. I think they should pay me for four hours for coming on site; that’s my four-hour minimum. They will only pay me for two — as in, the Finance department returns my invoice to me and tells me to resubmit with only two hours.

A variation on this is: I work two hours on site, and then they send me home with a promise of two more hours later in the day that I can perform remotely. They see this as honoring my four-hour minimum. But this isn’t how I want my minimum to work: I only want to get dressed up and commute downtown (approximately 50 minutes each way) if I am guaranteed four hours of billable time. Otherwise, I would like to work from home or pass on the assignment.

Twice I have pushed back and said, “Are you sure you have four hours of work for me? I do not want to come in unless you can hit my four-hour minimum.” They assure me there will be enough work, have me come in, and then send me home early. I don’t think they’re taking advantage of me; I just think they have a very hard time predicting (or managing) they workflow.

My question: Is my policy reasonable? If so, how can I better enforce it?

Yes, it’s reasonable.

Put it in your contract, get them to sign it so that their Finance department can’t keep overruling it, and — importantly — change it to a minimum fee for on-site work. Right now you’re saying you won’t come on site without four hours of work, but it would be better to just charge that minimum fee and take the question of hours out of it. Word it this way: “I charge a minimum fee of $X for each visit to perform on-site work, which includes up to four hours on-site. Because this fee accounts for travel time, work performed off-site is not included in this fee and will be billed separately.”

That way, if they only have two hours of work for you, it’s clearer that they’re paying that minimum of $X regardless, because that’s your on-site fee.

4. Using a different job title on LinkedIn and my resume

Can I change my job title on LinkedIn (and maybe my resume) to be more recognizable? I am a teapot maker; for some baffling reason, my organization has decided to call us all “teapot fabrication specialists.” This means nothing to most people, including people in my industry, because everyone who works in a similar position at other organizations is a “teapot maker.” This is a very recognized and well-understood position in my industry with a very standard set of duties and level of responsibility. I would not be lying about my job tasks or prestige by calling myself a “teapot maker” on social media and on my resumes. Can I do so?

Yes.

There are definitely times when you shouldn’t do this, but they’re (a) when the title you want to use is in any way misleading or makes you sound more senior than you actually are or (b) when it would cause problems in a reference check by raising red flags about your honesty, if the title you used is quite different from the title your company gave you. In your case, the two titles are similar enough that even if the discrepancy is noted, it’s going to sound like you’re just using more colloquial shorthand, and that’s fine. (It would be a problem if you were changing it to something like teapot chief, but you’re not.)

5. Should employers explain why you’re not hired if you’ve made it to an interview?

I just had a phone interview and then an in-person half-day interview with three people that I thought went well. When I asked the manager who the position reported to what qualities should the person have she said “all of your qualities.” I received an email from the HR coordinator a week ago letting me know that my references would be checked, and then today I received this rejection email:

“Thank you for taking the time to meet with us about the ___ position. We regret to inform you that we will not be pursuing your candidacy for this position. Though your experience is quite impressive, the selection process was highly competitive, and we have made the difficult decision to pursue another candidate whose qualifications more closely suit our needs at this time. We will keep your resume on file for consideration in similar openings that may come up in future. We thank you for your interest in our organization and wish you all the best in your endeavors.”

If I made it this far in the process, shouldn’t I have received more of an explanation of why I was not chosen? Does this rejection email seem canned to you?

Yes, it’s canned — but that’s very, very normal and not something you should take offense to. They need to deliver the same message over and over, and so it makes sense to use a form email to do that.

It’s pretty common for employers not to give candidates feedback on why they were rejected, for the reasons I explain here. You can certainly try asking for feedback if you’d like to, and you might get it (or you might not, but it’s a reasonable request to make), but you shouldn’t be offended that they notified you by that form email.

{ 430 comments… read them below }

      1. Karen D

        It is a wonderful policy but all the same, my workaholic, I-can’t-believe-they-pay-me-to-do-this self got a little twitchy reading it. I would go INSANE knowing 1) I was perfectly fine and 2) my boss was having to struggle taking up my slack. Plus, I just seem to feel better, faster, when I can get back to work and focused on something other than my little residual *coff coff coff*.

        Fortunately we can work pretty much 100 percent remotely now.

      2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

        It’d suck, though, if that leave was unpaid – and it sounds as if it is.

      3. CoveredInBees

        The only issue I can see with the policy is that there is probably an expectation that OP1 get back up to speed with their work ASAP. If they can’t get coverage/help from a colleague, this could make for a stressful situation. Will OP1 be dinged for not meeting some sort of monthly metrics while playing catchup? Still a great policy.

        I say this as someone who recently left a job where the thought of taking more than 2 days off at a time was so stressful (partially the workload, partially the work culture) that I never took a vacation.

        1. Tuesday

          Yeah, I have mixed feelings about it, too, for that reason. I’m all for keeping sick people out of the office, but cold symptoms can last for a really long time. It seems to me like the better policy for keeping sick people out of the office would be to allow working from home. That way you wouldn’t have to sit at home with the sniffles while you slowly fall behind on your work projects. I know not all jobs *can* be done remotely, and maybe that is the case here.

          The other problem is that if you’re out for a week with a stuffy nose, what happens when get your appendix removed and actually need that sick time that you were forced to use for a minor illness earlier in the year? The letter writer did say that paid sick time is automatically granted to anyone prevented from coming in to the office, so maybe that means there’s unlimited paid sick time?

      4. jm

        Yes, all this. Also, OP#1, please reconsider this statement: “I work in an office; it’s not like I work in a hospital with immune-compromised people.”
        Yes, you work in an office, but you MAY unknowingly work with people who ARE, in fact, immune-compromised. Lots of chronic illnesses and even medications cause people to become immune-compromised. I have two auto-immune diseases, and the meds I take basically wipe out my immune system, so if you’re sick, I’ll be sick in a few days, too. My boss faces this issue as well, so it’s very common. This generous sick leave policy may have actually been created in your organization to protect employees who are immune-compromised.

        1. sniffles

          yep, was coming to say similar. Remember the letter writer a bit ago that was puzzled about accommodations for someone where they were told not to comein if sick?
          Sounds like this would be their answer too.

          As I say this, I must note that in our office of 8 F/T staff, yesterday 2 of us were out (1 gastro, the other sore throat) and back today but 2 other folks are out today (throats) . While we all have 9a very limited amount of) sick days, we also have a huge event in 10 days that we are prepping so being sick is not an option…

        2. copy run start

          This is so important. I get a cold maybe once every two years, and generally avoid contagious stomach flus, so I know if something knocks me out it’s nasty. Not something I’d want an immune compromised person to suffer through since they’ll have it 10x worse and may not have the sick leave buffer I usually have built up.

          I wait at least 24 hours after a fever or for all “fun” to be over for 24 hours with stomach issues before returning to work to reduce the spread. I usually spend that last day sanitizing all the things at home, and when I get back to my desk, I clean everything. Surface, mouse, keyboard and phone/headset! (And really, how often does anyone clean that stuff??)

      1. Stranger than fiction

        Well…there is one slight issue. I’m sure they have a limited number of sick days granted per year and it sounds like they’re making people use up more than necessary. That’s how it is here, but probably not quite as strict as the Op’s place. I know people here that do their best to hide from mgmt when they return to work but have a lingering cough or whatever.

        1. QA Lady

          The lingering cough… I mean, my husband had one that lasted 6 weeks from his last cold. I think that’s a bit long to stay off sick for something that isn’t contagious.

    1. Lablizard

      I would kill for this policy. So many of my co-workers come in sick and spread their viral love.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      Ugh, yes, so much. My last company had an unlimited sick leave policy, which sounded great but really meant that we were expected to stay home (good!) and to work remotely (not so good!), whether we had a cold, a severe migraine, or the flu. My first year there I developed a nasty cough that stuck around for months. To be able to call in sick and actually take the time to fully recover? That is a beautiful thing.

    3. Lolli

      OP#1: I can see this as a cost savings for the business and its employees. I use to work at a place that would penalize people for calling in sick. When someone did get sick and come in, the illness would make the rounds and we would all be sick and shorthanded for about 2 months.
      My current work has a very generous sick leave policy and I send people home or let them work from home any time they need to. If they are sick, I encourage them to rest and not work so they will get well quicker. But they are all grown ups and will do what is necessary for the business and their personal lives.

    4. MashaKasha

      It absolutely is! Though, I understand how it might seem very different and unusual compared to working at a college. An ex was a college professor, and I swear I came down with my worst, and most frequent, colds in our two years together. Their culture is, there are no sick days and no subs, so you just come in, teach, and spread your germs freely! They really think nothing of giving other people their cold, because that’s how it’s done at their workplace.

      1. Marillenbaum

        This was why my college professors were always so strict about having us stay home if we were sick–since they couldn’t really afford to take days off, it was in their best interest for students to skip if they had something gross and contagious.

    5. M-C

      Surely you can entertain yourself through a few sniffly days without having an existential crisis over it? Maybe you can do some reading in a work-related field that’ll improve you for when you get back. If only reading in depth here about what happens to people with less generous employers than yours.

      But please don’t whine about the best sick leave policy ever, especially not to your coworkers. The policy is not only to protect you, it’s also to protect them. You have no idea what immune challenges any of them might be dealing with,, nor should you.

      1. LizB

        This comment is pretty harsh. We don’t treat letter writers with disdain here for asking questions, especially when they’re new to the workforce and asking about something that they simply haven’t experienced yet.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          I do think we need to allow for varying communication styles. M-C’s comment didn’t strike me as over the line, just more blunt than some people might be. Blunt is okay though.

          1. LizB

            Fair enough! It was the “surely you can entertain yourself for a few days without having an existential crisis” that read to me as fairly condescending more than the rest of the comment.

          2. M-C

            I’m sorry Allison if my irritation with the OP showed through too much I should maybe explain that while my own health is fine, I live with an older person whose immune system is already eating her lungs, I volunteer with senior groups, I have several close friends who are hiv+.. So this healthy oblivious young person could not just cause me some social isolation while I recover from her mild-to-her cold, but potentially kill some people I care about. It did make me feel extra curmudgeonly..

      2. Gabriela

        I don’t know. This kind of policy would drive me nuts, too if there is no work from home policy (unless they allow you to work from home, you’ll just be taking PTO for it). If I had to stay home and not work during a busy time for me because I was sniffly, I would be pretty stressed out thinking about everything that was piling up for me at work. I would be working extra hours when I got back just to catch up. I probably wouldn’t complain about it, but I understand OP’s uneasiness about it.

        1. EddieSherbert

          This is my mindset too – and my work has a similar policy to OP’s. Due to past jobs (and yes, school culture!), I tend to feel like I’m letting people down or making their lives more difficult if they need to cover for me.

          However, since this is their policy – and it seems really strict – I agree with everyone else. Just enjoy it! Your team knows you’re not slacking and, with how strict it is, I promise you’ll get to “pay it back” to your coworkers by helping cover for them when they get the sniffles.

          (Separately, my office does allow working from home, which is great for something like this.)

        2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

          That’s a good point — this policy is only a holy grail if they also manage workloads to accommodate it. If I’m forced to stay home for four days while I’m only nominally sick, only to come back to a week of 12-hour days to make up for it, it’s no good.

        3. Meg Murry

          I wonder if it is absolutely a 100% “no work from home” policy, or if it is just that OP can not work from home due to her level (being brand new) or due to her department (working with personnel records in HR and the risk of lost data).

          OP, I totally get being frustrated at this policy, especially when you know you are only a little under the weather. When you get back to work, could you talk to your boss or a mentor or more senior colleague about what/if you could do in the future if you feel 90% ok but can’t come in to the office. If you have a computer at home, perhaps you could identify continuing education you could do, like advanced Excel tutorials on YouTube, or reading specific to your industry. Or a book you could read. Or perhaps there is something not confidential that you could work on, like editing some documentation to make it clearer.

          Of if you could really use some sleep to help you get past this cold, go find some legislation relevant to HR or your industry. I promise you, nothing will help you nap faster than 200 pages of dense legalese. Or since you work in HR, perhaps the 300 page book that explains exactly what your company health insurance plan does and does not cover – also a good way to put yourself to sleep.

          1. OP#1

            The company doesn’t all working from home at all for anyone who works here.

            I can’t come back until my symptoms are gone since I was contagious. I talked to my manager but it’s not his call, it’s a blanket company policy so he can’t give me the go ahead to come in.

            1. Geoffrey B

              Provided that they’re managing things so you don’t get slugged with catch-up when you get back, having it as a blanket company policy is a Good Thing.

              Part of management is contingency planning. “Person gets sick” is one of the standard contingencies that any manager should be considering. If you do get sick and our project falls over, that’s not your fault for getting sick; it’s my fault, for not planning adequately. (Or perhaps somebody else’s fault for not resourcing our team adequately. But definitely not yours.)

              In my experience, junior staff are often very enthusiastic and eager to help. Speaking as a manager, that’s a great thing, but I should not be relying on that loyalty as a substitute for me doing my job re. contingency planning.

              Setting it as a blanket company policy reinforces the message that illness is a fact of life and managers need to plan for that rather than leaning on people’s willingness to work while sick. It also gives you a shield against bad managers who might try guilty-tripping you to work when you really ARE sick.

              (I’ve been on both sides of this. Just last year I was offered a great opportunity, but it meant leaving a team where I was a MVP and had a lot of investment in an ongoing project. I asked my supervisor if the team was going to be okay without me; she had to remind me that this was officially her problem for her to deal with, NOT mine. Bless her.)

              If you’re still feeling guilty about missing work, well, reading Ask A Manager is in fact professional development and you can do it from home :-)

              1. Person of Interest

                To those expressing guilt over staying home: I would rather pick up your slack than pick up your cold.

        4. Jenbug

          This seriously. At OldJob, missing one day of work meant working at least four hours of OT to catch up. So on the surface this is a nice policy if you’re truly ill, but missing an entire week because you’re a little stuffy seems unreasonable.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Or possibly they’re appropriately staffed and have reasonable workload expectations, which isn’t insane to think could be the case with a company that appears to care about people’s health.

            1. Tragic The Gathering

              Isn’t it a little sad that no one seems to even see this as an option (myself included)?

              1. CoveredInBees

                I’ve only ever worked in non-profit human services settings, picturing an adequately-staffed office makes me want to fly.

                1. Tragic The Gathering

                  I work at a public university in a red state. “Adequately-staffed” and “reasonable workload” would be swear words around here.

            2. TychaBrahe

              Or they have another issue, like the OP has a coworker with a compromised immune system.

              We had an accountant who was a kidney donation recipient. Organ transplant patients are generally on drugs for life that suppress the immune system so as to prevent rejection of the donated organ. (We were a small office, and she chose to share her medical information.) We were VERY mindful of the risks we took of getting her sick if we came in to work ill.

              People with cancer can also be particularly susceptible to illness and infection. People with AIDS can have a drop in T cell count if they get sick, even if they are on drug therapy. Viral hepatitis can cause issues.

              Plus, frankly, if Paul Ewald is correct, if we would all stay home and be concerned about spreading common upper respiratory infections instead of ignoring them, they would evolve to be even more mild and might just stop bothering us at all.

        5. Manders

          Yeah, I would love a policy like this, but if I was out every time I was a little sniffly or I had a scratchy voice I could easily rack up a month of sick days. And my immune system is pretty good, I just happen to catch a lot of minor colds because my partner works with kids who spread everything around.

          If this workplace really, truly doesn’t punish people for taking time off when they’re sick, then it sounds amazing. But that’s a lot of time off per employee.

          1. 957

            What about allergies? I may look like death when I have bad allergies, but I am 0% contagious obviously. And because of my asthma I will have a cough that won’t go away after every illness.

            1. Trix

              That’s exactly what I was thinking. How do they determine when people need to be sent home? You can be contagious, and yet look totally fine, and you can definitely seem sick even when it’s just something like allergies (which I’m not saying isn’t “sick” and I’ve definitely stayed home once or twice when allergies were so bad that I felt like absolute death, but even then, I wasn’t contagious).

              Seems like they’d either need to make a lot of assumptions, or ask some questions that are a little to personal.

              1. Julia

                Exactly. And what about illness that aren’t contagious? Do you have to work with endometriosis because it won’t spread?

        6. Elizabeth West

          Same here!!! How are people supposed to do their work if they can’t WFH? A cold can last up to a couple of weeks if you add in the lingering cough. What happens when all those people get hopelessly behind?

          1. Stranger than fiction

            One time I had bronchitis and the cough lingered for six weeks! Even though I was otherwise recovered.

      1. regina phalange

        same!! cannot tell you how often my coworkers come in sick because they think it is expected and then get others sick

    6. Tragic The Gathering

      OP #1: I feel like I might be the only one here who agrees with you that the policy of requiring you to stay home is a little over the top. When I get a cold, the after effects are stuffiness for a week or so…if I was required to stay home that long without working and for really no reason I’d be miserable. Especially if there was no way to work from home.

      I also don’t think this policy accounts for things that are invisible. Just because you send home someone who has a stuffy nose or a residual cough doesn’t mean you’re catching everyone who is contagious. Most people are contagious before they show symptoms, not a week after (especially if you have, say, strep throat and you’ve been treated with antibiotics). I don’t want or need my manager deciding when I am too sick to work and when I am not.

      Isn’t it best to have a liberal and generous sick policy and a culture of people staying home when you’re sick, but to also treat people like the adults they are?

      1. BananaPants

        That’s my thinking, too. I would really chafe at the idea that my manager gets to decide if I’m too sick to work or not based solely on obvious symptoms. Also, from what OP #1 has said in the comments, even a doctor’s note stating that the employee is no longer contagious isn’t sufficient to let the employee return if there are lingering symptoms.

        If I catch strep throat from my 6 year old (who has it running rampant through her 1st grade classroom at the moment), I’m no longer contagious after 24 hours on antibiotics and would feel well enough to return to work typically after 2 days, max. But because I have chronic tonsillitis, any throat infection (viral or bacterial) will lead to weeks of a low grade sore throat or laryngitis. It’s absurd to expect me to stay out of work for 3 weeks because at one point at the very start of the illness I was contagious for a brief period.

        And no, I’m not going spending another $155 (thanks, high deductible health plan!) to go back to my doctor to get a note detailing the exact nature of my lingering symptoms. My employer doesn’t need to know that I have chronic tonsillitis, or illness-induced asthma, or whatever chronic condition causes lingering symptoms to last for a while

        1. Tragic The Gathering

          Agreed with all. I am of course sympathetic to people who are immunocompromised/immuosuppressed/pregnant/getting over a cold themselves/already tired/have a kid at home, etc. etc. etc. but at a certain point you can’t control everything in the world and leaving your house is a risk every day.

          I think a major culture shift towards responsibly staying at home and ideally working from home if possible (obviously depending on the type of work you do) is in the best interest of everyone.

          I also commend them for having an unlimited use-it-as-you-need-it PAID sick time policy. That is the part that no one would complain about. The overly parental “I know better than you when you’re sick” policy would actually make me look for another place to work despite the incredible sick leave.

          1. JB (not in Houston)

            “at certain point you can’t control everything in the world and leaving your house is a risk every day.”
            These policies aren’t trying to control everything in the world or get rid of every risk. It’s to address obvious, known risks of contagious people. It’s not an ” overly parental \’“I know better than you when you’re sick'” policy, it’s a “you’re still showing symptoms, so why should we take a risk about whether you are contagious policy.” And really, how many people out there who have opinions about how they just know they aren’t contagious when they do X are experts in communicable diseases? When someone is showing symptoms, and you’re in an office guessing about whether they are contagious, why wouldn’t you err on the side of caution if you can?

            1. Karen D

              This is kind of where the policy the OP describes shades into paternalism/treating employees like children.

              You don’t have to be an expert in communicable diseases to know your own body. When my allergies get out of control, I know what’s going on with me. And nobody is going to catch an allergy! Same thing with the lingering cough that can hang on even after a course of antibiotics. (On the flip side, I can tell when I have a fever, even when the thermometer can’t. When I have a fever, I stay home.)

              1. Lissa

                Yeah, I agree with this. I get wicked hayfever and the occasional lingering cough after a “real” illness . . . it would be really frustrating to end up in an argument about what my own body is experiencing.

        2. Brogrammer

          The high cost of healthcare is a legitimate concern, but I’d be seriously surprised if a company that takes health so seriously that they have unlimited paid sick days and a mandatory “no working if sick” policy would offer a crappy high deductible health plan like the one you’re stuck with.

      2. Marcela

        The real problem is that we tend to know so little about illnesses and how they spread, and then this is how blanket policies happen. I remember my American boss one day, very congested, alerting me within a second of me entering our office, that it wasn’t a cold, just allergies! I just told him I’m not immunocompromised, so even if it is a cold, I am fine catching it. A couple of weeks ago, I got a nasty cold. By the time I had any symptom, the coworker sitting right next to me had already being infected, and the two of us were out for 3 days. There was no way for me to have prevented his cold: I did not know on time I had one. But we managed to keep the cold out of the rest of the company.

      3. INFJ

        Good points. I also feel like the kind of policy OP describes could be hard to enforce. Ideally, the employer would trust sneezing/congested employees who say they just have allergies and not just send them home.

      4. NotAnotherManager!

        I agree with this. I am all for employees not coming in sick and encourage people to stay home if they are unwell — it helps them recover faster, and it avoids taking out the rest of the staff, too.

        I generally follow the same guidelines as my children’s daycare/schools do. No fever/vomiting for 24 hours and abide by doctor’s guidance on contagiousness, if the illness rose to that level. I have sinus structural issues that can exacerbate congestion long after a cold has ended, and I’d hate to be sent home for residual stuffiness because my sinuses don’t drain correctly all the time.

      5. Lora

        It really, really depends on the workplace. If OP hadn’t said they can’t work from home, I’d have thought they worked at a couple of my exjobs (yes there are more than one of these workplaces).

        -There may be someone on staff who is immunocompromised as someone mentioned upthread. You do NOT want to risk that person’s health because you are bored and you don’t think it’s that bad. It’s not that bad for YOU, but it may mean a trip to the hospital for them.

        -Both my exjobs who had this policy (and a nurse on staff who would check on anyone in doubt) also had mammalian tissue cultures and pharmaceutical manufacturing suites which had to be kept sparkling clean and even administrative staff passing by in the hall would have been a risk to the environment. I am told it’s the same for people who work in electronics clean rooms – you need to keep the whole entire building as squeaky clean as possible, even in the administrative areas, because stuff (in some cases where we did environmental investigations, actual poop) gets tracked EVERYWHERE. Plus, you are contagious before you actually have symptoms: even if you work in the front office and the clean room staff only pass you in the cafeteria, they can catch your illness and carry it into the clean room areas. Environmental remediation of those spaces runs well over $100,000/day.

        -There are loads of workaholics either do not understand or refuse to care when they are told this explicitly in little words. So you do actually have to enforce it and be like NO YOU ARE GOING HOME NOW. Otherwise you’ll have people coming in, even in businesses which provide unlimited paid sick time, who would vomit a lung onto their desk and insist that no, they’re fine, just need a Mucinex and an extra box of tissues ha-ha. Sometimes because they did that at their last job and their boss praised their diligence. You have to work really really hard to un-do that kind of acculturation.

      6. Girasol

        Is there someone in the office who’s immune-compromised? A cold could be deadly. I had a manager who was rather a slave driver except in this case: if someone came in with so much as a sniffle. He would order them home immediately to protect the life of the coworker taking anti-immune drugs for a transplant. Of course, such a boss isn’t a doctor and may not be completely aware of when an employee is contagious, but as everyone says here, why not overlook any errors, go home, and cheer that you have such a workplace, considering the alternative?

      7. TheBeetsMotel

        The biggest practical issue I can see here is if employees are expected to work unreasonably long or stress-filled hours to make up time taken for illness. While playing catchup might be expected to a degree, if literally all your work is waiting for you when you get back, plus X, Y and Z task that have sprung up in your absense, I’d be peeved if I wasn’t allowed to come in and take care of things when I only had the last dregs/slight leftover cough stage of a cold left, and clearly wasn’t still contagious.

      8. Silver Cormorant

        I read that letter wondering how this workplace would respond to one of my colds. I only get sick once a year or so, but when I do, I’m totally miserable for 3-4 days and then have a lingering cough that can last 6 weeks or more. And of course, I’ve got sinus allergies to something mysterious that’s always in my environment (probably dust?) so there’s never a time I’m NOT sniffling a little, despite taking daily medication for it. Who gets to decide if I’m “sick” to say whether I’m allowed to come in to work or not?

      9. Stranger than fiction

        Or have some general guidelines like ” dont return to work until 24 hours after your fever breaks” (or whatever it is) or get a clearance from your dr that you’re no longer contagious for things like sinus infection that may still sound bad long after you’re no longer contagious

    7. Kyrielle

      It’s awesome, but…how do they deal with people who almost always have some minor symptoms? I don’t know if I have the beginnings of a cold or just my usual allergies, when a cold first starts. If they paid me to stay home sick whenever I was congested or had minor symptoms, I’d be lucky to be actually doing the job even half-time!

    8. Becky

      OP #1, you can’t know for sure whether or not there are immunocompromised people in your office. My father appears outwardly healthy, but he is immunocompromised and a common cold immediately turns into a 4-5 month case of pneumonia for him now. My mother has Rheumatoid Arthritis and her medication makes her immunocompromised with the fun side effect that when sick she cannot take her meds. Your office sick policy is a godsend for them and similar people.

      Can you reframe your thinking around the sick days into “okay, I’m ill and cannot make forward progress at work, but I’m not ill enough to lie in bed all day. What can I do at home that puts me in a better position to dig in deep at work when I go back”?

    9. Not Rebee

      I love this – as long as the sick leave is paid (sounds like it is) and is unlimited. Of course, there is a huge potential for abuse of this system, but I would hate to be someone who happened to get sick a lot any given year, was not allowed to come in even if I was perfectly fine to work, and was not getting paid for the time I was being forced to take off.

      (Although as someone who is rarely sick (I have a cold coming on that will be my first sniffle since September 2015) I would be pretty annoyed at all of my not-that-sick coworkers who were getting forcibly sent home and paid for their time off when I myself am never sick enough to take advantage of this policy. I suppose I should just be grateful for my health..?)

    10. Karin

      I’d love to work where #1 works. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten sick through the years from coworkers who have to be freaking martyrs (we get plenty of sick days where I work) and come into work hacking up a lung. Or who come into work and say they were sick all night but needed to do X task (that any of the rest of us could do).

    11. ThatAspie

      Yeah, I know, right? Like, I’ve been reading this site a while, and there are lots of people who talk about their sick leave policies being the exact opposite, where it’s like,
      “We don’t care if you have a cold,
      we don’t care if you have the flu,
      we don’t care if you have a fever
      that’s over 102,
      we don’t care if you’re moaning,
      we don’t care if you’re sighing,
      we don’t care if you’re hurling,
      we don’t care if you’re crying,
      we don’t care if you’re coughing,
      we don’t care if you’re dying,
      you come into work
      every single day,
      no rest for you,
      Sammy or Shay.”

      Seriously, OP#1, stop complaining.

  1. Drew

    OP#1, you are super conscientious about your work, and that is awesome. But the thing is, your coworkers want to be conscientious about their work, too, and it’s tough to do that when you’re worrying about getting sick because someone has come in with the sniffles. You’re also awfully quick to discount the possibility that someone is immunosuppressed, and that’s where my mind went right off the bat with a policy that stringent. You don’t know other people’s medical situations and it’s not really any of your business.

    Regardless of the reasons, your employer prefers to pay you to stay home when you might possibly be contagious, and it’s not on you to decide the policy shouldn’t apply in your case.

    OP#2: I would be tempted to start following up all my emails to Jane with an immediate IM, text, and phone call, but it’s probably better to follow Alison’s advice here and starve her of the reaction to this super-annoying stimulus. If you want to be a little less curt, you could ask Jane what’s going on: “Every time I get a message from our client, you’re on me immediately to make sure that I saw it. Is there something I’m doing that makes you worry I’ll ignore their mail?”

    OP#3, sounds reasonable to me. You could easily bill it as “on-site work fee (includes up to four hours); further hours billed at $X/15 min” (or whatever your rate is).

    1. Nobody Here By That Name

      Agreed on how those with bad immune systems aren’t obvious. I’m one such person. I’m nowhere near as bad as, say, someone on chemo but at the same time my immune system is such that illnesses hit me much harder than they do others. People coming into the office while sick with what to them was something they felt they could work through usually results in me having to use up a week’s worth of my carefully hoarded sick days. (Carefully hoarded because my chronic illnesses mean never knowing when I’ll hit a bad patch and need my sick days for that.)

      I would weep tears of gratitude for a company that insisted paid sick days at home the way OP #1’s company does.

      1. Helena

        Also possible that an employee doesn’t have a compromised immune system, but an employee’s family member does. When I brought home my preemie daughter from NICU, I was advised that if she caught a cold in the next couple months she would have to go back into NICU. I explained the situation to the boss and managed to avoid interacting with people long enough that she was fine.

      2. Koko

        There’s definitely a tendency also that people have to think they’re “all better” when they’re really only ~80% better. A few months ago I was very sick for about a week straight. When I finally woke up one morning without a sinus migraine and without having to use a tissue every 5 minutes I felt like I was “pretty much fine, just a little lingering congestion in my throat” and tried to keep a massage appointment I had previously booked. I got there and the therapist took one look at me and said, “You’re sick. We can’t do this today because you would feel awful when your lymph system starts pumping those toxins around and it would get me sick. Reschedule at the front desk and go home.” At the time I was pretty annoyed because I felt *SO MUCH BETTER* than I had for a week that I was really overestimating how recovered I was. It wasn’t until two days later when I was *actually* better and no longer sounded like a frog that I realized the extent to which I had still been sick two days prior.

        1. AnonAnalyst

          Yeah, I have definitely had this experience. A few years ago, I had the flu and missed a week of work. I still felt tired the following Monday, but I assumed I was well enough to return to work. That evening, I felt completely awful, and I still felt terrible the next day and had to take another sick day. In a more serious case, my SO ended up getting pneumonia last year and was instructed by his doctor to stay home from work for two weeks. He did, and while he felt better once the two weeks were over and assumed he was okay to go back to work, he completely over did it and ended up back in bed for another week. So I can see some merit in having people stay home a little longer than they probably would on their own.

      3. 2 Cents

        As someone who can’t take anything to boost my immune system because my autoimmune disease just *loves* that, I appreciate it when I’m not exposed to more colds than necessary. Everyone around me is pounding back Emergen-C, while I’m just Purelling.

    2. Immunologist

      #1, what really is wasteful is people who are immunocompromised ending up in hospital because coworkers won’t practice basic self-quarantine. Or, just as terrible, drop out of the workforce because they can’t take the risk.

      Keeping contagious people at home is a excellent policy from a public health perspective. Even if you didn’t work with anyone who was immunocompromised (and you aren’t in a position to know if you do), people in other workplaces who share your bus, train, elevator etc deserve consideration too. If there is space to argue with this policy it would be (perhaps) with the working from home ban, but enforcement of quarantine – fantastic!

      BTW, in my experience the average person’s estimation of when they are contagious is way off. More often than not when someone who is streaming virus particles out their eyes, nose and mouth tells me that it’s OK, they’re not contagious any more – nope, afraid you are.

      1. Mirax

        If I could find a company with this policy, I would quit grad school and rearrange my life to work for them. I have bad lungs, and a minor cold will keep me coughing for 4 to 6 weeks. And of course no one on campus can stays home when they’re sick, so I’m coughing for several months out of the year.

        1. I used to be Murphy

          I’m the same. I’ll cough so hard that I throw up, bruise lungs, and once cracked a rib. This happens a few times a year. It sucks. I love it when people stay home when they’re sick. I already live with a disgusting germ troll (toddler) so it’s already an uphill battle.

          1. Phyllis B

            I love that!! (Germ Troll) I have three grand-children living with me, and… they’re pretty disgusting germ-wise, but luckily I’m pretty healthy. (Must be all the wine I drink!!) :-) They’ve been with me for about three years, and the only thing I have gotten from them was one fairly bad cold, and a case of impentago . (Yes, I know I spelled that wrong.)

      2. fposte

        Totally agree on the contagious thing! I think there was a folk belief going around that you’re only contagious for three days. Viruses are not quitters, people.

      3. More anon for this one

        It’s really wasteful when someone drops out of the workforce due to something like this, but they may have more options to build alternative careers. And, frankly, we should be doing more to support IC workers* in building those careers as an option.

        I can’t expect workers to stay home unless they are as lucky as the OP. Landlords, bill collectors, grocery stores, student loan servicers, etc. don’t really care if you were contagious. Paid sick days aren’t a given. Also, you can’t self-quarantine until you have symptoms, so it can only be a part of a solution.

        This isn’t to say that adhering to generous sick leave policies isn’t worthwhile; in fact quite the opposite. But you mention things like taking consideration for bus and train and elevator riders, whereas I’d be taking a more universal contamination approach. I would imagine that regardless of the policy at your workplace, you’d be sharing transit, drug stores, and grocery stores with people who aren’t so lucky.

        *and pretty much everyone with some limitations to their work that are still very capable and interested in working

    3. Engineer Girl

      It is wasteful to be at work while you are sick. Why? Because you can’t give 100%. So you are wasting the companies money – they are paying you for 100% but you are only giving 80% or less. It is also wasteful of others time if you get them sick and they can only give 80%. Not only are you/they working more slowly, you are more prone to mistakes because your thinking isn’t clear. That means you have to go back an undo things. And it always takes more time to undo something than do it right the first time. So more waste there too.
      In the whole scheme of things, it is actually less wasteful to keep one sick person home.

      1. Myrin

        Exactly. It’s one of these preconceptions that I find especially annoying – most people I’ve experienced this with could just as well have stayed at home with the kind of work “quality” they got done that way.

      2. Mookie

        Which neatly demonstrates that doing the right thing, ethically, by your employees and your clients both is intelligent, efficient practice. Take note, employers, if you please.

    4. Sami

      Same for me. I don’t “look” immune compromised (what that would be I’m not sure exactly), but with two “invisible” chronic diseases, it’s a disaster if I get sick. A cold for me can easily turn into bronchitis or pneumonia.

      1. Sandy

        I am battling an RA flare and pneumonia right now, and while I don’t want to blame any one particular person, we have an office full of parents with kids in daycare. It’s like a petri fish in there.

        A mild cold for you turns into three weeks off work for me. I want to get work done too!

      2. GigglyPuff

        Came here to say exactly this. I have a chronic illness that makes me immune compromised, and everything hits me harder now. I just had to take a week off for a sinus infection it hit me so hard, which drained the bulk of my PTO so much I have to reschedule routine appointments until I have more hours. Pain in the butt.

    5. Temperance

      Yep. I look totally normal and healthy, but I have a pretty weak immune system following a serious illness last year. I mean, honestly, I looked normal and healthy once I went home and put on non-hospital clothes, even though I could barely move.

      I would love if people didn’t come to work sick. While I think your workplace’s policy is a bit of an overreach, TBH, as an asthmatic who has been coughing for almost a month now, I think it’s great and considerate otherwise.

    6. Electric Hedgehog

      You may have a coworker in the early stages of pregnancy, not showing and not ready to share yet. A flu for a pregnant woman is a very serious thing, and even tings like minor colds are a real PITA. Most medications are forbidden. When I was pregnant with my kid, I got a cold and couldn’t do a thing about it. I was miserable for weeks.

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#3, absolutely bill them a four-hour flat rate. I think they’re going to continue to violate your agreement if they can get away with it… which it sounds like they’ve been able to do, so far.

    Ideally have your four-hour requirement in your contract, and if you haven’t already, include a term stating that you bill on-site work at four hours for any on-site service of 4 hours or less.

    1. Kat_Ma_Ras

      Yes, to your last line especially.

      Flat $X amount for on-site work up to 4 hours,
      and $Z/Hour each hour after that. Or bill in 15 min or 30 min increments as appropriate.

      Also, !if you’re on site you’re getting paid!. Including this “on-call” thing they were trying to pull by keeping you there past 2-hours, but then not paying because you didn’t do any work (their fault!).

    2. Elizabeth West

      This is very common in temp agencies. When we used temps at OldExjob during company meetings (they covered the phone while I was in the meeting), we had to keep them for a set amount of hours. I loved it because when I came back I could make them do the filing. I don’t know how the fee structure worked, but I assumed my company paid for that amount of time regardless of what the temp did.

  3. MeepMeep

    #1 sometimes you don’t know who is immune compromised by looking at them. You also don’t know who may be caring for immune compromised people. This sounds like an amazing policy and I get that it feels odd because it’s so rare to come across. Try to enjoy it and don’t assume there isn’t someone in your office who is immune compromised.

    1. Maya Elena

      OP clearly wasn’t saying “nobody is immune compromised” or “I can’t wait to give this cold to my elderly cubicle mate!” It is obvious why a place like a hospital would have stricter rules for coming in sick than a generic office, and understandable why it is unusual that OP’s policy is strict. (Even though most of us would love such a policy.)

      Thus I’m not sure why everyone is taking such offense at OP1’s letter. Most people, with all but the most severe immune system malfunctions, still have to function in the world, take public transportation, go shopping, use public restrooms, etc.

      1. Jessie the First (or second)

        I’m not reading offense. I’m reading an effort to educate. The point is that there could be immuno-compromised people that the office is making an effort to watch out for, and so what seems like a wasteful policy to her is actually based on real factors of which she is unaware. The point is that even without accommodations, it may make lost of sense for places that are not hospitals full of immune-compromised folks to have similar policies anyway – precisely because you can’t tell by looking who might have immune issues.
        I don’t get at all why you think people are taking offense. They are simply explaining.

    2. Anon Accountant

      Thank you for this. This is an amazing policy and there are so many who are or are around those with compromised immune systems or decreased ability to fight infections and illness.

      Such an amazing policy.

  4. So Very Anonymous

    Re #1, just coming back to say that another benefit of a policy like this is that if you yourself should become immunocompromised, you know that you’re working someplace that has your back. That’s just awesome all around.

    1. Junior Dev

      Right? I have disabilities I don’t like to disclose at work (because people have either reacted poorly when I did, or have made awful mocking comments about my disability without knowing I personally have it) and I always have this low-grade anxiety that something I can’t do safely will come up as a job requirement.

  5. all aboard the anon train

    #4: Regarding title changes, can you list the official HR title on your reference sheet if they are truly different?

    My previous company went through a phase where they wanted to turn from a corporate company to a tech start-up and my title was changed from “Editor” to “Information Guru”. I was not an information guru. I was a manuscript editor. The company made a lot of weird title changes that had nothing to do with jobs, but sounded “hip”.

    I kept “Editor” on my physical resume and my LinkedIn profile, but my reference list has “Originally hired as “Editor” – title changed to “Information Guru” in 2013), and I’ve mentioned it when I had to give info for a background check. I got another job after I left that company, but I’m just wondering the right way to handle title changes when the new title is so weirdly unrelated to the job.

    1. Mookie

      I was not an information guru. I was a manuscript editor.

      Crikey.

      Sounds like your solution, though, more-or-less aligns with Alison’s earlier advice about handling this weird phenomenon.

    2. CM

      I think you handled it fine. You could also say something like “Editor (official title: Information Guru).”

    3. Orca

      Semi-relatedly (Alison feel free to delete and I’ll save it for the open thread), I found out yesterday the company that’s in the process of buying mine doesn’t like “admin” to be in people’s titles. Has anyone experienced similar and did it indicate anything? I feel mildly weird about “specialist” replacing “admin” and feel like it’s a weird thing for a company not to like.

      1. Mona Lisa

        The awful non-profit where I worked did this because the inept HR lady thought that, as long as “administrator” wasn’t in the title anywhere, a person’s job could be classified as exempt. Our front desk people were called “Customer Service Specialists,” and they reeeeally resisted hiring a dedicated office manager, which is how I ended up being the person who ordered all of the supplies and processed mail as the “Project Manager.” When I was moved into a newly created position, HR lady strongly resisted the title of “Database Administrator” even though that’s what I was. It was absolutely bizarre, and she was so proud of the fact that we had no non-exempt employees on staff.

        1. Orca

          That’s the first thing I said to my boss but apparently this company has no issues spending overtime and prefers non-exempt! Which is another reason it’s so weird to me.

        2. Jamie

          Because DBA isn’t exempt sounding enough? I would insist on Database CuddleBunny because no one loves my databases like I do! Or Princess FussyPants from the realm of Data.

          Sounds like one of those people who think referring to someone as “support staff” is an insult. I work in manufacturing, if you don’t physically make it or sell it you’re support staff…IT is the ultimate support staff position as our whole role is support the tech which allows end users to do whatever the company does.

      2. Temperance

        I think “specialist” sounds like a higher title, which might be the reason? My office has a weird hierarchy where it goes “Assistant” and then “Coordinator” and then “Administrator”. “Administrator” is a high title here.

        1. Orca

          It does sound like a higher title which is why I feel weird. The work is definitely just admin work! There’s nothing wrong with that!

        2. Koko

          It’s very weird to me that people have this association of administration as a low-ranking thing. Maybe it’s because I’ve worked in a para-governmental field for year but Department Administrator sounds to me comparable to a Department Director.

          I wonder if it’s because “administrative assistant” is so often shortened to “admin” that now people think the whole field of administration is akin to assistant level work?

        3. Hannah

          Really? I have always felt like specialist is a title used by the customer support reps at cellphone stores, call centers, etc. It is in my title and it always bugs me since I feel like it sounds like an entry level title. #ego

  6. Jeanne

    #2, Stop responding to her when she sends you a reminder to read email. It makes her think that you are reading the email because she told you to. Then separately ask her to stop doing this. Tell her you have things under control and would not ignore a client.

    1. myswtghst

      I’d second the “stop responding” to her IMs. Ignore it and continue working on responding, then once you have, reply to her IM and let her know it’s taken care of. I also like the suggestion in a thread above about broaching the subject with her by asking if there’s a reason she’s concerned about responses, and if maybe you can set a compromise (i.e. if she hasn’t seen a response after 30 minutes [or w/e is appropriate], she should ping you, but not before).

  7. Lord of the Ringbinders

    #1 How do you know you’re not working with anyone with a compromised immune system? It’s entirely possible that you are and that’s why they’re so absolute with this policy.

    “This seems wasteful to me because I could be at work getting things done instead of sitting at home.”

    Why do you think you need to be getting things done? Do you have a very heavy workload? If they require you to stay off sick, they surely aren’t expecting the same productivity levels?
    #2 Can you just ignore her reminders?

    #3 For your clients to respect your policy, you need to stop making it optional and charge a minimum fee like Alison says. Right now your policy isn’t in writing, in a contract, by the sounds of it, so I’m not sure I would even say you effectively have one – as your policy is to want four hours but not to charge for them.

    #5 There’s no point taking those personally. Sure, you can ask for feedback, but there may not be a clear reason. If you haven’t seen one of these before, it’s possible you’re new to job hunting. It’s really standard and not something to be indignant about.

    Sometimes other candidates are appointable but one is just the best fit.

    1. caryatis

      “Sitting at home” is such a sad way to describe paid time off. Does this person have a problem with weekends too?

      1. MashaKasha

        I see letters on here every once in a while complaining about an employee who called in sick and then “was caught red-handed abusing the sick-day policy” grocery shopping, getting sun and fresh air, and otherwise being out of bed on their sick day. I really hope this isn’t the expectation at OP1’s place, but maybe that’s what she is worried about.

        1. EddieSherbert

          Ohhh, that’s a pretty good point actually. I live very close to my work and am somewhat paranoid whenever I leave the house that I’ll run into coworkers and be judged when I’m out of office (whether it’s a sick day or “staycation” day).

      2. Murphy

        I could understand feeling annoyed if you have a lot of work to do, you feel fully capable of doing it (as in the last few days of a cold when you’re only a bit sniffly), but are being prevented from doing so.

        1. Kai

          I have to admit I sympathize with OP 1, even though this sick leave policy is AMAZING. If you’re a conscientious worker and are possibly leaving your boss or colleagues in the lurch during a busy time, I completely get being annoyed and anxious about having to stay home with a stuffy head. Again, though, if that’s the policy, that’s the policy, and I think more workplaces should be like this.

          1. Anon13

            After so many curt and blunt comments directed toward OP#1, I’m glad to see your comment! I understand the need for the policy, but I sympathize with her, as well. Add in the fact that, if you are someone who is often sick, like me, you may be out of the office more often than you’re there. If my work had the same strict policy and I was unable to work from home, I would have worked maybe six days this month – it’s natural to be concerned about missing so much work and is not indicative of some sort of “existential crisis,” like one commenter suggested.

        2. writelhd

          Agree that if there was work I could be doing from home that would save me from being overwhelmed when I got back, and I feel well enough to do it, I’d like to at least have the option of choosing to do it. I don’t see what’s wrong with that. Sometimes working at home can even be better. One time I got the flu twice in one year (ARG! and I had the flu shot!) but the second time I worked just hours each day that I was home and FINALLY got a project done that I’d been trying to do forEVER but could never get to in the office because of constant interruptions. I still use the results of that project every day.

      3. Anon13

        I view this differently. If I had to stay home from work every time I have the sniffles, I would be at the office maybe 1/3 of the time all winter. And yes, if I were to not go in to work because I was sick, I would likely stay at home, and describe it as such. How does one’s view of sick time relate to weekends? It don’t find it odd at all to view different types of PTO differently, and actually do find it odd to view sick days and weekends as similar.

        1. caryatis

          Sick days and weekends are similar because they’re both time you don’t have to work. It just seems odd to me that OP sees more free time as a bad thing. If I were forced to take a sick day when I didn’t really feel sick, I would be glad to have the extra time to exercise, cook, read, do yoga, spend more time with my husband, do errands, walk in the park, watch a movie–etc etc. I know OP didn’t sign up for psychoanalysis here, but it’s kind of sad that OP apparently can’t imagine “sitting at home” as being anything but a waste of time.

          1. Anon13

            I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. I use sick days to stay at home. I use weekends to go to festivals, go out to lunch or dinner with friends and family, etc. I don’t view them as similar and I don’t find the OP’s attitude sad or odd in the least. I also don’t think the OP indicated in any way that spending any time at home is nothing but a waste of time – she indicated that, in this particular instance, she views it as wasteful. I think it’s sad that so many people are judging the OP’s words so harshly.

            Additionally, as others have stated, there’s always the chance a co-worker or supervisor will see you if you leave home on a sick day, and judge you harshly for doing so. And, add on the fact that this may not be “more free time.” If I were to take several sick days, the work would still be there when I returned, and I would likely need to work late/come in early/work on a weekend day to make up for it.

            1. Natalie

              I think what you’re describing all sounds very normal for your average office, where most people interpret “sick day” as “I can’t work” rather than “I still have a cough from that cold I had earlier this week.” But in the kind of office environment the LW is describing, how likely is it that a co-worker would see you grocery shopping and judge you? Everyone in the office is subjected to the same strict policy and is presumably well aware of it.

    2. The Strand

      To be fair, this is a recent college graduate. I have a new colleague who is a recent grad, and a breath of fresh air. She is conscientious and genuinely excited about her new position, and stays late almost every night (even though our manager and I tell her it’s OK not to). I believe our OP is feeling the same excitement – and maybe pretty grateful in light of the issues with employment for younger people, in many countries. That’s why it seems “wasteful” to be at home.

    3. Electric Hedgehog

      My brother works 110 hour weeks and last week thought he had a heart attack at work. Turns out it was just pericarditis (still not great), and he took the weekend to recuperate. It’s very possible that the sheer amount of work that he’s doing was a contributing factor.

      My point is, yeah, you could work while sick, but be kind to your body. Work really does take a toll on you, even if you’re not doing manual labor. Take advantage of the sick time policy.

    4. Anna

      I have to admit I’m a little tired of seeing all the responses to OP 1 that border on “HOW DARE YOU PUT SOMEONE AT RISK?!” We don’t have any idea why they implemented the policy. It could be as simple as “One person out sick for a week is better than three people out sick for four days.” In fact, that’s probably all it is. Either way, OP1, I get that after about two days you’re probably bored with Netflix and such, so if you’re feeling all right, but can’t work, do something fun and don’t beat yourself up about it.

      1. Taylor Swift

        Yeah, and LW1’s letter doesn’t it make it sound like she thinks that’s a dumb reason to stay home, or anything.

      2. Lissa

        Yeah. The immunocompromised issue has been stated. And stated. I don’t really think one more stern comment about the issue is going to change anybody’s mind. As someone who’s never had a job where I get sick days at all I totally can see myself having the reaction they are, and would need the reminder that there are a lot of advantages and I should try to relax about it.

        TBH It wasn’t not till I started reading AAM and other online forums that I realized how many people thought somebody should stay home for a cold! It just…had not crossed my radar as a thing to do.

    5. myswtghst

      Why do you think you need to be getting things done? Do you have a very heavy workload? If they require you to stay off sick, they surely aren’t expecting the same productivity levels?

      I think this is a good place to start, OP #1. Think about why it seems wasteful to you – is it because you’d rather be working or because you feel like you’ll be overloaded when you get back?

      If it’s the former, are there things you could do on your own time which would be beneficial to your current role / career that you never seem to have time for? I’m absolutely that nerd who reads work-related library books on my vacations and has taken several MOOCs via Coursera that were beneficial when I was job-hunting last year. Look at it as an opportunity to do some of those things, so it’s still productive even if you feel you shouldn’t be out and about on a “sick” day.

      If it’s the latter, that’s a solid reason to have a conversation with your manager. I’d frame it as “I’m grateful for this policy and recognize how rare it is, but I’m concerned about the impact on my workload when I’m not in the office on days when I am feeling well enough to get work done. What would you recommend I do to keep up with my work in those instances?”

  8. JessA

    #3
    Are there any resources out there for freelance contracts? (What does one look like, what all does it cover? Are there any templates?) I’ve never actually seen one.) I was previously a freelancer and a contract would have been very helpful.

    Thanks!

    1. Wrench Turner

      All kinds of resources! Just google freelance contract template and maybe some key words for your industry. Or, find a contract template you like and change things relevant to you.

      But why not write your own? You don’t have to have a Harvard Law Degree for a simple contract:
      -What you’re doing (Welding Monkeys, Wrench Graphic Design, Tea tasting consultant)
      -What you’re NOT doing (cleaning up after monkeys, making wrenches, washing teapots)
      -How long you’ll be doing it (per project or time period)
      -Specific results you’ll deliver (one monkey/day, graphics by Friday, monthly taste reports)
      -How much they’ll pay you (per project, per hour or fee per week)
      -When often they’ll pay you (upon invoice or invoiced weekly)
      -How soon they’ll pay you (within 10? 20? business days of invoice)
      -What happens when things go wrong (penalty for late payment, discount rates, early termination)

      1. Lance

        Yeah, as long as you’re clear in writing about all of those things, such that there aren’t any misunderstandings to likely be made… you don’t need some professionally done write-up or anything. It’s not actually that hard to write up a contract on your own, and once signed, it’s just as binding no matter who wrote it up.

      2. Tammy

        When you’re done writing your contract (which you totally can do on your own, and which I myself did when I was a consultant), you might want to pay a lawyer for a couple hours of time to review it, though. There are at least two reasons why this is a good idea:

        1. There might be legal nuances (or state-specific stuff) which you’re unaware of and which can come back and bite you. Just as a simple example, your state might have a cap on the size of penalty you can charge for late fees, and if you don’t know that it can cause you unforeseen downstream consequences.

        2. In general, if there are ambiguities in a written contract that end up in court, the ambiguity will be resolved in favor of whichever party was not the party that wrote the contract. (This is why so many Terms of Service agreements are a zillion pages long – the big company writing the contract wants to make sure to leave as few ambiguities that could bite them as possible.)

        If you’re going to Google for contract templates, “freelance contract [industry] [state]” is probably a better set of search keywords than just “freelance contract [industry]”. But, really, it’s worth the money to have a lawyer review your contract, just in case.

        1. I'm Not a Doctor

          Or consider the cost of doing business to have an attorney write up a general use contract for you to use for your freelancing–that way you aren’t missing anything that could cause you problems later on. I think it would be worth the initial investment.

          1. Judy

            Our local library has some online resources for patrons including small business resources. Our community also has a small business incubator that offers help to those who are starting a business.

        2. A Plain-Dealing Villain

          The insurance company providing your liability coverage should also have sample contract language for you. They know your risk better than anyone else.

    2. The Strand

      I liked Sarah Horowitz’ Freelancer Bible and bought it for a friend who had contract difficulties. I think NOLO and your local SBDC (small business development center, run by the Small Business Administration, and providing free guidance, including free referrals to and sessions with a lawyer / accountant who can help you develop a business plan, contract, etc) are better resources for the contracts, but Horowitz covers a lot of the questions you need to ask/decide.

      To learn more about the SBDC:
      http://americassbdc.org/

    3. Chickaletta

      You CAN write your own, but it’s a risk. There are a lot of bad contracts floating around the internet, or they were written for people in other states or other lines of business, and copying one is just copying garbage. Having a lawyer do it will ensure it holds up in court, and if it doesn’t do that then the contract isn’t worth the paper it’s signed on. If you’re regularly pulling in $2K per client or more, it’s probably a good idea (under that and the cost of taking a client to collections or court isn’t worth it).

      I hired a lawyer to write a contract template for me when I started my freelance business. It was NOT cheap, I’ll tell you that, but it’s considered a cost of doing business and was a write-off.

    4. Taylor Swift

      Personal services contracts are complicated and important and it’s really probably better to have a lawyer help you.

  9. Gaia

    #1: where do you work…are you hiring?

    Kidding. But seriously – that policy is amazing. It would be terrible if they weren’t paying for it or making you use vacation days for it. But that is an awesome policy. Enjoy it.

  10. Kat

    #3: At the very least, for the time you were there waiting for work to come in, you were “engaged to wait.” It’s my understanding that, if you’re in the United States, you must be paid for that time if you’re hourly. But I’m not 100% positive. It might be different as a contractor, but as long as you were on site doing or waiting for work because they requested you be there, you should hold your ground on at least that amount of time.

  11. H.C.

    #5 I agree with AAM w not taking it personally. As someone who wound up interviewing 9 “final” candidates – I am not sure I can provide concrete, actionable feedback even if pressed, partly because a significant amount of time passed between my interview & final decision making and partly because I was tasked with identifying the best candidate – not where other candidates fell short, so couldn’t really offer more specifics beyond more experience, more relevant skill set & better fit.

    1. MK

      Exactly. The OP is looking at it as if they owe her an explanation for rejecting her, as if, barring any specific reasons to disqualify her,the job was hers. That’s how grading in school works; as long as you perform to a certain level, you pass. Hiring is about choosing the best person out of the candidates, not passing a bar.

      And, really, the OP did receive an explanation of why she was not chosen; the response may be canned, but it says in black and white that there was another candidate who was a better fit.

    2. M from NY

      But you CAN give an answer most just don’t want to. It doesn’t hurt to say you were strong on skills xy but our immediate needs right now require excellence in skill z.

      Now rejected person may need that feedback that they strengthen up skill z or talk more about it next time to highlight current level of competency. Or it could be that normally position requires xy and your immediate needs makes this no longer a good fit for them. Knowing that helps provide closure instead of thinking they did something wrong.

      It shouldn’t be looked at as one is behaving entitled when they ask for some feedback. I’m not saying do for all candidates that apply but when one has reached interviewing stage the canned rejection response is maddening. Your time is valuable but so was theirs.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Very often it’s just not that straightforward. It’s more nuanced or awkward or a message that would take time to really explain, and might be hard to really get outside of the employer’s particular context. As I wrote in the post I linked to in the article, if you chronically interrupt, or seemed vaguely angry, or looked unkempt, or just didn’t seem smart enough, or you creeped out the receptionist, most employers aren’t going to want to have that conversation with you.

        If it were always just “we needed stronger skills in X,” that would be different — but it’s not. And frankly, even when that’s part of the answer, it’s often more nuanced than that. If I tell you we need stronger skills in X but ultimately end up hiring someone at a similar level as you in X because they’re unusually great at Y and I decide that makes up for it, I don’t want to deal with an argument from you about it (which will sometimes happen).

        I say this as someone who does try to give feedback to rejected candidates, but I give a lot less of it than I used to for all of these reasons.

        1. Bonky

          Alison’s absolutely right, as usual. I had one candidate last week who was, bluntly, rude. I had one who radiated stress, drama and upset (far more than is usual in interviews), and a few others just weren’t smart enough. Another was extremely buttoned-up – a colleague used the word “glassbowl” (you know what I mean) in the interview to describe a particular sort of customer, and the candidate was visibly horrified – they’d have struggled in our culture. None of those things are going to work for us, and none of them are going to result in feedback which I particularly want to share, or that’s going to be at all helpful for the candidates in subsequent interviews. If you were rude in interview, you’ll be rude when I offer you feedback. You’re not going to be able to magically change your affect or your intellect, and some workplaces will *like* that you hate swearing.

          1. myswtghst

            Completely agreed. And if someone just wants a job (any job), they’ll rationalize any subjective feedback given and see it as an opening for negotiation, which is not a good use of a hiring manager’s time.

      2. myswtghst

        As Alison mentioned, it’s not always as simple as a single skill, or based on entirely objective facts, and providing more nuanced feedback is something not everyone is equipped (or paid enough) to do proactively for every candidate. It’s also worth keeping in mind the number of candidates who see that feedback as an opening to negotiate, argue, lash out, or worse (especially given some of the examples shared here).

        I think it’s reasonable to expect a hiring manager or HR person to be open to candidates politely asking for feedback, but I don’t think it make sense to expect all rejected candidates will receive detailed feedback after an interview. Absolutely, if a candidate was wonderful and just barely missed out, it’s worth letting them know you’ll keep them in mind for future opportunities and would recommend beefing up x skill, but otherwise, I can’t fault hiring managers from not volunteering feedback.

    3. Bonky

      I’ll echo that – don’t take it personally. Just in this last week, I interviewed 20 people for three different roles. I simply don’t have the bandwidth to send every one a customised reply on top of all my other work, and in the vast majority of cases, additional feedback is not going to help the candidate. (“You didn’t answer the behavioural questions well”, or “Your affect made us realise you wouldn’t be a good culture fit here” aren’t really constructive feedback: and people who don’t do well at answering the questions they’ve been asked generally realise that this has been the case.) In most cases it’s simply that one candidate ticked more boxes, and better, than the others.

      I will, very occasionally, send a candidate whom we didn’t take on a personal email if they were really, really exceptional and I am very keen to keep that avenue open (and in fact did so this morning); the person in question is already freelancing and I hope she’ll be able to do some freelance work for us, which may lead to other things down the road. This is pretty unusual, though.

  12. Freya UK

    OP1 – If only all companies had that sickness policy! The woman who sits next to me came in with a full-on cold yesterday (the kind where it’s glaringly obvious you’re not fit to work) and I’m furious about it. I have asthma, and every time I get a cold I run a real risk of it turning into a chest infection (this happened over Christmas in fact). Not only could that kill me (if untreated, obvs), it also means I need antibiotics every time, and as we are all aware, you can grow immune to the antibiotic itself. What happens to me then?

    Revel in your generous and correct sickness policy, OP.

    1. ceiswyn

      I just have to make this correction… PEOPLE don’t become immune to antibiotics. BACTERIA become resistant to antibiotics.

      The number of courses of antibiotics that you, personally, take will not affect whether those antibiotics work on your next infection. This is because the bacteria that infect you are different each time.

      The problem is if some of the bacteria mutate to become resistant to the antibiotic you’re using, don’t get killed, and spread to other people. Or if bacteria in some other person do this and spread to you. But the antibiotics that you, personally, take don’t determine whether the next lot of bacteria to infect you happen to be resistant; that’s just luck.

      Sickness policies that encourage people to turn up to work sick, meaning that asthmatics end up taking more antibiotics, make it more likely that that will happen somewhere; but the risk is on a population level, not a personal one.

      1. blackcat

        “The number of courses of antibiotics that you, personally, take will not affect whether those antibiotics work on your next infection. This is because the bacteria that infect you are different each time.”

        Not to get too side tracked, but that is not necessarily true. Taking the *same* antibiotic repeatedly will bread resistance in whatever bacteria is housed in the body and does not get killed off completely. This is somewhat likely in people who are already immunocompromised, despite being relatively rare overall. So if someone tells you their doctor has warned of this, they are not crazy.

        Also, repeated antibiotic use is not good for the digestive system. We have lots of bacteria in our body that we want there. Repeatedly killing it off is not good and can cause longterm digestive problems.

        So if someone says they don’t want to be constantly taking antibiotics, believe them. There are real individual level risks in addition to the population wide ones.

        1. Freya UK

          Yes, this, thank you. I do always need the same one and it is something my doctor has discussed with me – I’m not a hysterical member of the masses who buys into scare-stories on the news.

          1. Breda

            For the record, I have a very intelligent, discerning, well-educated, non-hysterical friend who also believed the term “antibiotic resistance” applied exclusively to people, not bacteria. This is a very widespread bit of misinformation, and it’s part of why people stop taking antibiotics too soon – which, of course, helps the bacteria become resistant. And we keep discovering new strains that don’t respond to antibiotics at all, which is terrifying.

            So it may not apply to you, but it applies to *most* people, and I appreciate ceiswyn’s clarification.

      2. Anxa

        “The number of courses of antibiotics that you, personally, take will not affect whether those antibiotics work on your next infection. This is because the bacteria that infect you are different each time.”

        Whoa!! This correction is misleading!

        First of all, only the surviving bacteria can gain or confer resistance. And sometimes they survive within or upon the body. So those bacteria are similar.

        Second, many infections are opportunistic. Bacteria will come and go on my body, but I have a few regulars. My microbiome may change overtime, but it’s far more steady than you seem to suggest. When I have a staph aureus infection, my doctor isn’t really expecting me to be free of staph aureus or even that strain unless I have a serendipitous encounter with it again out in the world. It was likely there before I got sick, and it’s likely still there now. And it may or may not (probably will, I have eczema) strike again.

        So yes, technically my human cells aren’t developing an immunity to an antibiotic that works by interfering with building structures I don’t even need, but in a way I’m more than my human cells, and I do have to conscientious of which antibiotics I use, because I those bacteria are ‘mine,’ for better and for worse.

        Of course, there are some bacteria than you encounter that are just visitors, relatively rare, and that once you finish a round of antibiotics, end up with such small numbers that they can’t sustain their population and become a non-issue. But that’s not universal

    2. The Strand

      Could you ask your coworker to wear a mask? The way that sick people who have to go out typically do in Asian countries?

      It’s pushy, of course, but I also think it’s pushy to come in when you’re that sick. (One of my coworkers got us all really sick a year ago, after visiting a child who had a bad case of pneumonia, and catching his chest cold. Everyone who worked on the floor got sick.)

    3. cncx

      YES. My coworker does not have asthma but he will almost always get a chest infection if he gets a cold, plus he has infants at home and at least one takes after him. a cold that makes me stuffy two or three days will knock him out for two weeks. i don’t come in if i don’t feel good. even if i feel good enough to come in, it isn’t worth being without him for a week or two.

      we have a generous WFH policy, everyone has a company phone and a laptop..no reason to come in to be a hero.

      I know you can’t always know where you got a cold, and i know that people can and usually are contagious before they feel really sick, but that doesn’t mean coworkers should be like “welp maybe someone coughed on him in the train or welp maybe i was contagious three days ago.” Every little bit helps.

  13. NewHerePleaseBeNice

    OP1 – that is a fantastic policy. I currently work somewhere with a similar rule (although we are allowed to work at home, which is great), but in the past I have been hospitalised with my lung condition due to working in workplaces where people come into work with severe colds and even flu (not to mention stomach upsets) and encouraged to stay even though they’re really not well.

  14. dragonzflame

    #1 – with such an amazing sick leave policy as that, soon you’ll be complaining that you never get sick (thanks to coworkers not sharing their germs), so you never get time off work ;-)

    1. MashaKasha

      This is actually very true.

      An OldJob comes to mind where one coworker came down with pneumonia, and three weeks later, the whole office sounded like a kennel full of hounds. We laughed at it at the time, but it isn’t really all that funny when you think of it.

  15. SusanIvanova

    I am kind of curious what counts as “until all signs of my cold were gone”, because as I get older the cough part lingers longer than it used to – right now I’ve still got an occasional cough from a cold the first week of January.

    1. Apostrophina

      My colds are all like this too: I only get one every few years, but there’s a cough that can linger for weeks after the traditional cold symptoms are gone. I like the policy at the OP’s workplace in theory, but I assume it would lead to my being let go eventually.

      1. Emlen

        Same, but I have to wonder whether our colds would linger like they do if we were allowed to stay home and rest for their duration.

        1. SusanIvanova

          Well, in this case I did get to stay home because I don’t have a job right now :) I think it’s just a getting-older thing.

      2. Terry

        As an immunocompromised person myself I would definitely be forced out of OP1’s workplace. I am always, always sick. I would measure the amount of time I don’t have a visible cough or sniffle each year in weeks, not months, and the workplace doesn’t make a difference as I catch stuff when I go shopping etc. anyway. I guess I could use my generous sick leave to look for a new job.

      3. Sunflower

        Agreed. I get a cold once every winter and then again in the summer. Usually lasts a few weeks. Besides that cold, I never get sick. So is it really ok for me to be out 6 weeks a year on strictly sick leave? Because I’m expecting PTO in addition to that.

      4. Anon13

        I agree. Perhaps I’m interpreting OP #1’s e-mail incorrectly, but, if her company’s policy is as strict as she’s making it seem, I would have worked maybe 6 days since mid-December (and, if it’s even stricter, 0 days). I think it’s a valid concern and a lot of people are being unnecessarily harsh in their responses, by suggesting she’s having some sort of existential crisis because she thinks this policy is odd, or by suggesting it’s weird or sad to view sick days (when you don’t actually feel sick) as time wasted at home.

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      True… that’s a good question. A couple years ago I got socked with a bout of bronchitis that tapered into 3 months of occasional heavy coughing fits. There was only a week that I was actually being medicated for it, which I would have loved to have been able to take off because trying to work while high on prescription cough syrup was not that great, but “all signs of illness” would have been a long vacation…

      1. Perse's Mom

        Yes, this is what I keep thinking of. I had walking pneumonia nearly a year ago. The cough has never entirely gone away.

        1. ThursdaysGeek

          My sister got something on her 50th birthday and started coughing. When the cough didn’t go away, she went to doctors to rule out pneumonia, bronchitis, lung cancer. She’s finally learned how to manage it, including never getting even a bit chilled. The cough persists. It’s been over 10 years now.

        2. Ellen Ripley

          There is hope! I had pneumonia three years ago and the cough lingered for a year or two. Now it only flares up after a bad cold or if I’m outside and the air is very smoky/dusty/pollen-y. It’s definitely getting better, albeit very very slowly.

    3. VioletEMT

      My one concern here is that it sounds like OP would be disciplined for coming in if someone thinks she is sick. Who is making this call? I have asthma. Whenever I get a cold, I wind up with a cough that lingers for several weeks after I am better. Note that this is not the cold, this is just my lungs continuing to complain about the viral insult. I am not sick. I am not contagious. Staying home and resting will not help. The only thing to be done for it is to take my asthma medication and wait it out. There’s no reason for me not to be at work. but it sounds like under this policy, a cold would have me out of work for a month at a time.

      I don’t want to be getting cold in the first place, so I am 100% in favor of a workplace policy that encourages/requires employees to stay home when they are sick and contagious. But it’s all documented that there is a point at which you are no longer contagious, but you may still have a few residual symptoms. That’s the part that can linger, and that’s the part that I’m wondering about.

      1. Grits McGee

        I’d assume that if this were an issue OP1 could get a doctor’s note saying that she’s no longer contagious and clearing her for duty.

        1. doreen

          Having to go to the doctor to get a note saying that you are not longer contagious after a cold is no better than needing a doctor’s note to take a sick day for a cold.

          The part that worries me is that there are so many reasons why someone might cough or have congestion without being contagious. I might be congested and sneezing for weeks due to allergies and my daughter has a persistent cough due to acid reflux – neither of those are contagious. My coworkers/supervisors aren’t really qualified to judge whether I have a cold or if an allergy is acting up.

          1. hermit crab

            Yeah, I agree with this. What if someone catches you throwing up in the bathroom, and you know you’re not contagious because it’s actually morning sickness, but you’re not ready to tell people you’re pregnant yet? Do you have to get a doctor’s note every time there’s a new allergen in the air outside, saying that your allergies are actually allergies?

            Obviously, we don’t know if this is the case in OP’s workplace, but if there’s a culture of coworkers policing other people’s sneezes then I wouldn’t call that the holy grail of sick time policies. But maybe it’s just unlimited guilt-free sick time, which would be great — it’s hard to tell from the letter.

            1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

              I feel like there would have to be some level of “look, I’m not contagious” with anything GI related, because there are so many ways your digestive system can decide it randomly hates you that are not at all infectious.

            2. Kj

              Yeah, I get migraines that make me throw up- I’m not at all contagious, but if you didn’t know about the migraines, you’d think I was contagious. Usually my anti-nausea meds+ migraine meds fixes it in about 30 minutes, but I wouldn’t want to be in trouble for coming in sick if I get hit with a migraine.

              And, on a side note, when I first started getting migraines, half the people I work with asked me if I was pregnant- including my boss. I’m young, female, recently married, puking in the restroom in the AM….well, you get where they got the idea. But I was shocked at how many of them brought it up to me, basically asking if I was expecting. Awkward. I’ve started preemptively bringing up my migraines with new co-workers because I’m tired of folks thinking I’m preggers when I get them.

              1. hermit crab

                Haha, that’s happened to me too. Despite never having been pregnant, I effectively got morning sickness for a period of time once, when I went on a new medication that affected some hormonal stuff. I basically felt like I was shouting “ADJUSTING TO A NEW MEDICATION, NOTHING TO SEE HERE” from the rooftops.

          2. Cathy

            Another reason for a persistent cough is blood pressure medication. There are several on the market where that is a top side effect, and clearly not due to any infectious process.

        2. BananaPants

          Going to the doctor’s office for a cold is not going to happen unless my employer is paying the $155 that an office visit will cost on my high deductible medical plan.

          We have to do this for our school-aged child; absences are not excused without a doctor’s note, even if it’s clear that the illness is viral and there’s literally NOTHING that the doctor can tell us to do that we don’t already know (push fluids, give ibuprofen, etc.).

          1. Purple Dragon

            In Australia some Chemists (Drug Stores ?) can give out medical certificates for basic things like colds etc. Is there something similar in your area that might save you most of your $155 ? That’s got to add up if you have to get one every time your child gets sick.

          2. Parenthetically

            Holy crap, that is a draconian sick policy! And holy crap, $155 for a “yep, your kid has a head cold, get some children’s tylenol on your way home” visit?!? I paid out of pocket for a 2+ hour midwife visit last week and it was only $70. Healthcare in this country is forked.

        3. 957

          Yeah, that would be ridiculous. I have the same issue where even a cold would leave with an asthmatic couch for weeks. This is after illnesses that I typically don’t go to a doctor for – between the allergies and the asthma and the fact that I have caught every illness that goes around the office, I can take care of myself. Going to get a doctors note would be ridiculous.

          On the other hand, my office right now is somewhere where we all work in 1 conference room together and people come in sick regularly, which is awful because the one conference room thing makes it so you will get it.

          And our work could be done perfectly well remotely.

      2. Alton

        Yeah, I have bad allergies that often cause coughing and sniffling on their own, and sometimes when I get a cold I end up coughing for a month or longer, with it flaring up any time my allergies are triggered. Now, if my employer wanted to pay me to stay home and not work for a month, I might not complain, but I’d be really upset if I was disciplined for having allergies.

        Also, because my allergies act up a lot, it can be legitimately hard to tell sometimes if I’m coming down with something. Sometimes it’s obvious but sometimes it’s not. I like donating blood, but I don’t usually make appointments because it’s hard to predict if I’ll be feeling “unwell” when the day comes around.

        1. JB (not in Houston)

          Nobody would make you stay home for allergies because those are not contagious. The problem would be what you mention in your second paragraph, that you have the symptoms so often that you don’t know if it’s a cold or allergies. (I started getting allergy shots because I used to have that problem and was tired of it.) But I imagine if you were known for having allergies, they’d probably not worry about you, especially if the pollen/mold/whatever your allergy is counts were high.

        2. writelhd

          I have terrible allergies that look just like colds, but definitely are not, that happen constantly, despite shots and every over the counter and prescription allergy med known to man. If I was forced to go to the doctor to get this checked out every time it happened before I could go back to work…I’d quit. But if a permanent note from the allergist would work, that’d be ok. So it just depends on how reasonable the powers that be are on the subject.

      3. Myrin

        I agree with the concern but I’d guess you’d just mention it to your supervisor or whoever is responsible for determining what “still sick” means. If they’re reasonable people, they’ll understand your “I have asthma, therefore XY” explanation and will exempt you from the “no signs of any illness at all, ever” rule.

        1. 957

          More people than you would think still see asthma/allergies = sick and would be scared and not believe that explanation. Especially people who rarely get sick and therefore don’t understand.

          1. Myrin

            Enough people do understand, though. There’s no harm in approaching this like the person you need to talk to in such a case is reasonable and understanding.

    4. OP#1

      Under the policy a doctors note would only be accepted for something like allergies that is not contagious. There are no exceptions if the illness was a contagious one, an employee must stay home and be classified on paid sick leave. That’s why I am not allowed to return. I still have signs of my cold even though my doctor has confirmed I’m not contagious.

      1. Allypopx

        Can you treat the symptoms? If you’re taking sudafed or something so you’re not obviously symptomatic will you still get in trouble?

            1. Natalie

              Although you want to watch how many days you use a nasal decongestant – they can cause rebound congestion which just pushes your issue forward a week or so.

      2. BananaPants

        This is seriously, creepily paternalistic. If a licensed physician (or PA or APRN) says that I’m not contagious anymore, my employer doesn’t get to decide that they’re wrong.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          They’re not deciding that your doctor is wrong. They’re saying that they’d rather you stay home until you’re completely over your symptoms.

          I couldn’t blame an employer for reading these comments and deciding they just couldn’t win with y’all.

          1. Allypopx

            To be completely fair Alison, you mention in your original response that they seem to be taking this to an extreme. While it’s the preferable extreme, extremes in general almost always come with drawbacks. Some drawbacks for this could include workload management problems, punitive action for mistakenly coming in the wrong level of symptomatic, some misunderstandings that others have mentioned like allergies or morning sickness, feelings being overscrutinized…

            As a logistics person, these are the kind of things I’d want feedback on if I were implementing a new policy. I’d love to see this site try to break my plans, even knowing I couldn’t make everyone happy.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              That’s fair. But seeing nearly the same amount of adversarialness applied to a company that’s paying people to stay home when they’re sick as gets applied to companies that do the opposite is making me burst a gasket.

              1. Cat

                I am not sure that’s a fair characterization of the discussion. The comments on the typical no sick-leave companies are a lot more vitriolic, I think, and rightly so. I said below this would drive me nuts, but no sick leave would be a lot worse than that–I just don’t have that to comment on right now.

          2. Mimmy

            So you’d be okay with an employee being out for a couple of weeks if they have a lingering cough after a bout with bronchitis, for example, even though they may otherwise feel okay?

          3. BananaPants

            I’m a fan of employers treating employees like adults who are able to sensibly gauge their level of wellness and determine for themselves (in conjunction with their doctor if necessary) if they’re well enough to be productive at work or risk spreading illness to others. Of course, that requires offering generous sick leave and not penalizing employees for using it and in many cases that’s lacking.

            I happen to have access to very generous sick leave with no doctor’s note required until 5 consecutive sick days. Because of it, I think nothing of taking 2-3 days off for a severe cold or strep throat when I need to, but between illness-induced asthma and chronic tonsillitis, it could be weeks before my lingering cough or low-grade sore throat/laryngitis is gone. I would still have symptoms for a period time much longer than would be reasonable to expect a person to stay out of work “sick”. I’d probably get a lot of my DIY project backlog done and would watch a lot of Netflix, but would come back to a disastrous backlog of work.

            I guess what I’m trying to say is that there’s a happy medium here and I think OP #1’s employer may have swung to one extreme, and it would feel really controlling to me as an employee.

            1. JB (not in Houston)

              Yeah, but how many employees are qualified to determine for themselves if they are at a risk of spreading illness to others? I work with a bunch of smart people, but what they firmly believe about illness would be debunked by a short internet search they refuse to do. And some of them have doctors who basically sign off on whatever they want them to. I would never trust those people to determine whether they are contagious or not.

            2. myswtghst

              I’m guessing part of the struggle is that even if you do “[offer] generous sick leave and [don’t penalize] employees for using it”, the majority of us have been conditioned by bad attendance policies (official or otherwise) at work or school to suspect we’ll still be punished for taking advantage of the PTO to the extent the employer wants people to. So while I’m completely in agreement about employers treating employees like adults, I also can see why they would push back to make sure employees know they really, truly, seriously mean it that they want you to stay home til you’re well.

              1. Noobtastic

                I think the “but what about lingering cough when I’m not contagious” issue could be mitigated quite well with an on-site doctor, or else a contract with a close-by doctor who will see the employees WITHOUT a fee, to clear them for duty (or tell them they are not as well as they think they are and go back home).

                Also, if they maintain adequate staffing and cross-training, the work will be covered, and people won’t come back to a backlog, especially if only a few people are out at a time, rather than a contagious sickness wiping out half of the staff at once, because someone came in and spread it around.

                It’s an investment that very few companies are willing to make. Yet, in the long-term, it would save a lot of money, and increase productivity, as well as employee loyalty.

                Perhaps OP#1 could suggest that the company look into implementing such a scheme with a local doctor, so that those who can work, and want to work, and are not contagious can be certified not-contagious and allowed back to work. If it is the policy that they need to be either symptom-free OR certified, then their co-workers will not look askance at them if they have a lingering cough, because they will know that their policy is protecting them, and it’s probably just allergies or asthma, or something else that won’t spread to them.

                Giving them the option of symptom free or certified not-contagious is, in my opinion, treating them as adults, because they choose whether to wait for symptom-free, or go to the doctor for the certification, and they can make the decision based on their own knowledge of their own bodies, and what is best for them, while at the same time reassuring all their co-workers that it is a safe place to work, even for the immune-compromised people there.

                If I were in charge of a company, and had the wherewithal to implement such a policy, I would do it. It would lower profits, in the short run, but the long-term results would definitely be worth it to me.

                Unfortunately, I am not a business owner.

          4. Noobtastic

            I once worked for a boss who told us, many times, that he didn’t want people to come in sick, whether they were contagious, or not.

            His reasoning was that if it was contagious, we didn’t want your germs, and if it was not contagious, you would not be at your best, and you’d be more likely to make stupid mistakes that could potentially cost the company millions of dollars. He was also big on cross-training, so that co-workers could cover for each other, and regularly recommended training courses, books, etc., so if you had down-time, you could be reading one of those books or doing an online training course, and no one would bat an eye about it. Sometimes, he even bought books for the entire department (not a shared library, literally everyone in the department got their own copy of the book), and encouraged (not required) us all to read it.

            He was my all-time favorite boss, ever! If he’d been my boss at a company that had a policy like this… It would have been absolute heaven.

            1. Noobtastic

              We didn’t have that policy, but we did have an on-site physician, we were free to visit for urgent care, including performing swab tests to see if it was a virus or something, or just allergies, or what-have-you. The on-site doctor could say whether or not you were contagious.

              Doctor/patient privilege still applied, of course. However, having the on-site doctor meant NO co-pays and short wait times, as well as a general feeling of security, knowing that if someone was injured/sick on the job, someone was unhand to help.

              When someone was out with short-term disability, even if they had their own doctor’s release, they still had to check in with the on-site medical office, as procedure. I suppose that means that if they did not have their own regular doctor to give them a medical release, they could get it from the on-site doctor.

              We also had really good insurance, so our co-pays were $20 for a doctor’s visit. MAN! I miss that insurance!

              It’s not like that, anymore, at that company, since it got bought out, and policies changed, insurance changed, higher-ups changed… It’s a whole different company, now, making the same products as before. Too bad, because not only has morale tanked, but so has quality and quantity of their output, despite people routinely working oodles of overtime.

              I remember reading a book, once (sorry, can’t remember the title), that proposed that you’ll have better quality AND quantity of product, in the long term, if you don’t even allow overtime, but tell your employees that if they can’t finish by five, they need help. If it’s short term, get a temp, and if it’s long term, hire another employee for the increased workload, and keep everyone’s workload reasonable. He also advocated “the speed of working slowly,” basically saying that if you slow down, you’ll wind up doing more, because you do it right the first time, and don’t have to waste time fixing mistakes. The opposite of “the hurrieder I go, the behinder I get.” Also, if you find your rhythm, even if that rhythm is slow, you’ll be so in the groove that you’ll produce more, and better quality, because people in the groove make almost no mistakes.

      3. Anon 2

        That, to me, sounds like they are dealing with someone who is immuno-compromised. You can be “not contagious” for the vast majority of people, and still do quite a bit of harm to someone with an weakened immune system.

        Take the paid time. Watch some Netflix. It will all be ok in end.

    5. Anononon

      Yes, this part of the policy would really irk me. It sounds like it goes way too extreme the other way by getting creepily paternalistic.

      1. Purest Green

        Agreed. I sneeze one or two times every single morning even at 100% health, but then it’s over and it doesn’t happen again until the next morning. I’d be upset if someone thought I was sick because of that, and there’s no way I’d get a doctor’s note about it.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Perfectly healthy people sneeze on occasion. I don’t see any reason to assume that would get you sent home, any more than hearing your stomach growl would be taken to mean you were about to projectile vomit.

      2. Noobtastic

        My first thought was that the owner or CEO is immune-compromised, or has a family member who is. If the person who is in charge of the whole shebang is concerned about germs (maybe simply a germaphobe, or maybe is really vulnerable), then they have this extreme policy for their own sakes, not because they are trying to be paternalistic, but because they are paranoid.

        And even if you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean no one is out to get you.

        I believe that this policy was initially put into place for a very valid (if possibly confidential) reason, and complaining about it at work will only cause problems. Instead, try to suggest ways to make it easier for people who are definitely not contagious to come in to work, or at least to ensure they will not have a rebound when they come back to a mountain of backlog.

        A helpful suggestion would go a long way, where complaining will not.

    6. DCGirl

      And what about someone with allergies? I’m allergic to dust, mold, and mildew, so my allergies actually get worse in the winter when all the windows are shut. Despite allergy shots, nasal sprays, and pills, my nose runs, I sneeze, and I cough. What would this place do with me?

      1. Vizzini

        According to the OP’s comment above, you’d apparently need a doctor’s note.

        I’m in the same boat. I have REALLY bad allergies, and that combined with over-large turbinate tissue in my nose led to near-constant congestion. I had nasal surgery to reduce the turbinates, which helped the breathing, but I still have constant postnasal drip. So, I’m constantly blowing my nose, sniffling, and coughing. It gets noticeably worse at certain times of year (e.g., when the corn is tasseling). I’d hope a single doctor’s note would cover it forever. If an employer made me get a doctor’s note every time it got bad, that would be annoying.

        1. DCGirl

          I would hope that one doctor’s note would suffice to cover the season, but…. At my old job, I was the target of a couple of coworkers who were convinced that I was the carrier any time anyone got sick, because of my runny nose, sniffling, and dry cough. The fact that we all commuted on crowded public transportation and arrived at a busy train station was irrelevant. It got to the point that they wouldn’t sit next to me in meetings, complained to management and HR, and left anonymous notes on my desk. HR had to hold meetings about allergies and their symptoms with my team. It didn’t help. The fact that I cared for my elderly grandmother at the time ans was scrupulous about not doing anything that would bring germs into her nursing home (and she never got a cold the whole time) meant nothing.

          This type of policy would give those vindictive harpies license to kill. I see Allison just tweeted that her head is exploding because people are complaining about the policy at the OP’s office. Live through what I did for all those years and you’d understand. I think the concern of everyone who is “complaining” is about a policy such as this would enforced.

          1. Myrin

            Every policy in the world ever is going to have people who take advantage of it in a negative way, though. That doesn’t mean that the policy in and of itself is bad.

            I can understand Alison’s frustration. Someone can describe the most reasonable, charitable, friendly situation and someone will come along with “BUT [highly unusual and weird situation they’ve found themselves in once]!!”. Which is not to say that those situations, like yours, suck, but as you say yourself, your coworkers managed to be nasty arses even in the absence of a policy like the OP’s, so it’s not like these two situations are even really related.

            I’m also getting some “not everyone can have sandwiches”-type of vibes from some of these posts. Yes, but many people can. (I, for one, am indeed someone who, once I’ve rested for a couple of days, completely symptom-free, so this would be perfect for me personally.)

            1. AnonAnalyst

              I have to agree. I would rather see a company go in this direction than the direction of discouraging people to use sick time, which seems to be more common IME.

              Are there potential problems? Sure, but that’s the case with most company policies; there will always be edge cases where the policy isn’t optimal. In those cases, it’s fair for the affected employee to discuss the problems with management to see if there’s a way to make an exception or amend the policy.

              I think there are a lot of good points raised here, but none of them are necessarily true at OP’s company. As others have said, since this has been the company’s policy for a long time, they might do a lot of cross training and have reasonable workload expectations so that people who are out sick aren’t coming back to a huge backlog of work. And they are providing paid sick time that doesn’t count against the employee’s PTO bank! I’ll agree that the way the OP has presented the policy about not being able to return with any symptoms seems a little stringent, but overall it sounds to me like the company is doing its best to keep its employees healthy (which is a good thing, in my view anyway).

    7. MashaKasha

      Yeah, after reading OP’s explanation, that part is a bit overkill! Even a daycare would let a 2-year-old back in with a doctor’s note!

    8. Kris

      This is also my concern. If I get any sort of respiratory thing, the cough can linger for up to three months, weeks after I am no longer contagious. I would be the most unproductive worker at my job if I were barred from coming into the office for three months. I am not a person who shies from taking a sick day when I need one. I don’t like the idea of my boss overruling my doctor on whether I am sick (in either direction).

    9. The Strand

      It could be allergies, or it could be bronchitis (if it were a wet cough with mucus) – you don’t have to be immunosuppressed to have a cold end up in your chest. Also, our lung capacity goes down as we get older (boosting exercise levels to make what we have more efficient is a good idea; also quitting smoking).

      I had a really mild cold a few days after Christmas, but I’m still coughing like a sick person, thanks to the mild bronchitis I picked up.

  16. LarsTheRealGirl

    #4 If you really don’t want to feel like you’re misrepresenting, and your resume format would cleanly allow for it (i.e.wouldn’t clutter it up), you could also do something like:

    Teapot Fabrication Specialist (Teapot Maker)

    I think on your LinkedIn you can just put Teapot Maker.

    1. Katie

      That’s exactly what I’ve done in the past. OP 4 made me laugh, because I had a job that started off as an Inside Sales Representative for a textbook publisher, but then they decided to rebrand all of us as as “Learning Consultants.” And of course no one knows what that is, so on my resume and LinkedIn I just put “Inside Sales Representative/Learning Consultant.”

  17. Ian Rennie

    #5 as someone who has conducted lengthy hiring practices a few times, having a stock answer rather than a breakdown is useful for a number of reasons

    1) if we’re interviewing a lot of people, having to give a detailed reason for not hiring each person represents a significant investment of time.
    2) Having a stock answer minimizes the chance of people either feeling offended by a rejection or feeling like a rejection is negotiable. Especially if you’ve been able to put together a stock answer that is both generic and well written.
    3) The reasons for rejecting someone might not be easy to put into a rejection letter. “Bad fit” can be hard to explain, for example.

    I’ll give detailed feedback if someone asks for it, but often it’s simply the case that there were more good people than roles available.

    1. F.

      Especially 2). If we have made our decision, arguing, pestering, demanding, etc. are not going to get you a job. In fact, if you were our second choice, where we might consider you for the position if our first choice doesn’t work out, arguing with us will let us know that we dodged a bullet, and we will remove you from consideration for this and any future openings.

    2. Graciosa

      We do something similar with one exception – internal candidates. Feedback always goes to their managers (phone call from hiring manager to current manager) so the current manager can both respond to questions and incorporate the feedback into the development plan.

      As a hiring manager I will meet with internal candidates who were rejected to give feedback directly when requested, but the existing manager is primarily responsible for coaching and development – which is thankfully a big deal in my company.

    3. Purple Jello

      And maybe the reason wasn’t “bad fit”, but that the person hired was a slightly “better fit”. Best case when you’re hiring is more than one good candidate, and having to decide between them. How do you define that? (“We had to flip a coin…”)?

  18. rudster

    Re. mininum charges… I work as a freelance translator (entirely remotely) and also have a minimum project charge (about 1 hr, sometimes half an hour is the job is really tiny). For some reason most clients have a huge resistance to any kind of minimum charge (mention it and they get all huffy (“But none of our regular vendors charge a minimum!”), and act like you’ve just asked them sign over their house and firstborn to you. The problem saying “Just put in your contract” is that most clients that regularly employ freelancers (e.g. agencies) have their own contracts they make you sign (they will usually even refuse to sign your own contract), and any dispute just leads to arguments about whose terms apply, and nobody’s going to take them to court over minimal amounts. The only real solution is to make it absolutely clear what your expecations are and then refuse to work with clients who don’t honor them. With direct clients you have more leverage and the situation is a little better.

    1. Izacus

      Yes, but those terms MUST be in the contract – as with any kind of business dispute, if it’s not in the contract you have little chance of enforcing it. If it’s not in the contract you also can’t use it as a basis to lock down their company accounts and force them to pay you for the invoice.

      1. Wrench Turner

        A contract is agreement, not coercion or obedience. You’ve got to insist that it’s in there and enforce only working with places that honor that. It’s only as rare as they can get away with making it.

    2. Mookie

      That’s pretty bad policy on the parts of those clients, even if the work is, as you say, entirely remote. There’re plenty of industries that charge a flat rate or minimum for the first hour of work or consultation; nobody gets mad at residential plumbers (well, they do, but it’s often misplaced because so much of the work involves human feces, I imagine). The reasoning behind that varies, mostly based on overhead (travel time, use of equipment, occupation of employer-owned property, labor), and the format does as well (MAR, cost-plus-fixed, minimum and maximum workhour) but it’s very common, entirely rational, and nothing to get huffy about or scandalized over. Sometimes fees are waived, adjusted, or used towards the final bill, but they are not an out-and-out effrontery or a scam. It’s spreading risk, and is no different from a kill or cancellation fee.*

      *although in practice kill fees can be abominably abused, of course

    3. hbc

      We’ve had luck with setting certain clients on pre-pay for a while. That way, we’re not saying we won’t work with them, we’re just acknowledging that their payment history and ours hasn’t aligned, and it makes sense to get in alignment before any work is done. If they choose to read it as “because you’re a deadbeat liar,” then they can decide to end the relationship.

      Literally every time we’ve done this, they eventually came crawling back, probably because they’re as bad at paying everyone else.

    4. 4Hours

      OP3 here. Thanks for this perspective. I am always asked to sign the client’s lengthy contract and I was not sure how to ‘counter’ or ‘amend’ their contract with mine. I am anticipating some pushback and a perception that I am a ‘difficult’ freelancer. Still, there are some great ideas in this thread. Clearly I need to communicate more clearly and stand up for myself.

      1. Allypopx

        In my experience the most successful freelancers come off as difficult sometimes because people don’t wrap their heads around how the business relationship is supposed to work. Standing up for yourself is a must. Good luck!

      2. Meg Murry

        The other thing that stood out to me was that you said you told them about the 4 hour minimum “when you were first contracted”. I think you need to bring it up *every single time* with this difficult client – so when they say “Can you come to our office on Jan 31st at 8 am?” you reply with “I am available but I wanted to remind you that I have an on-site fee of $4X, which includes 4 hours of work. Is there anyone else I should meet with that day or any projects you want to earmark so you get the most out of your 4 hours?” or something more diplomatic and better worded.

        You can’t expect people to remember that you charge a minimum if not all their freelancers do. It also might make them think twice about whether they really want you on site or whether a conference call would be just as sufficient.

  19. Myrin

    I reckon that a policy like in #1 isn’t only good for your coworkers, but for yourself as well. So many people just don’t take the time to actually heal and come to full health again. My best friend in school was like that; in the seven years we were friends, she stayed home once (!) and that was because of an extremely aggressive and highly contagious stomach bug that had our whole area in a chokehold. As a result, though, she was basically always sick. She would over-exert herself – just by going to school – and while her illnesses became better over time, it took a lot longer than other friends who just stayed at home for three days and were as good as new afterwards. I never found out what was up with that – she wasn’t an especially hard worker (as in, she didn’t have an especially big amount of ambition and felt like she had to stay on top of everything) or felt like she left others in a lurch or just loved school so much or whatever. I suspect she saw it as some kind of weakness (which is A Bad Thing) and felt like she couldn’t ever allow herself to just relax (at least in that regard) without realising that all of us were annoyed that she’d just come in giving all of us her germs yet again.

    1. surac

      My parents forced me to go to school sick. They wanted me to get the Perfect Attendance awards. Unless I was throwing up, I went.

      1. Graciosa

        And I’m sure that Perfect Attendance awards have been of great long term value in your career –

        1. surac

          I don’t think they were meant to help me, I think they were meant to give my parents something to brag about.

          1. Noobtastic

            Wouldn’t it be better to brag about good grades, or extracurricular activities, or actually doing something worthwhile?

            If you come in sick and miserable,as well as spreading your germs to everyone else, you’re also likely to bring down your grade point average, because you won’t be thinking clearly, will make mistakes, and those mistakes will drag down your grade, whereas staying home until you are well and then taking a few days to catch up will mean you can do quality work and make good grades.

            Colleges rarely give more weight to attendance than to grades, so what is the point?

            I think those Perfect Attendance awards should be abolished. They do much more harm than good.

      2. anonderella

        I was a master at faking high temperature/faking sick. I think I faked asthma once, and then realized it wasn’t worth the hassle/discomfort : ). My quick draw technique was to hold the thermometer tip to the lightbulb in the lamp by my bed while my mom’s back was turned.

        Crazy how different our school-attendance experiences were; I remember walking around my house when alone to test out ways to heat up the thermometer, haha

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          With the old mercury thermometers, you could also rub it against the leg of your pants, and the friction would heat it up.

          But you had to be careful. I broke two thermometers in succession doing this in the school nurse’s office one day. When she gave me the third, she figured out she needed to stay in the room with me.

          1. anonderella

            You would not be one I’d expect to fake sick, Allison! Haha, just picturing a little girl trying to pull off “woops, didn’t know my own strength..” with a straight face.
            Though to be fair, I don’t fake sick at work these days, so I guess people do change : )

            1. tigerStripes

              School and work can be different though. I was happy to take any sick day I could when I was a kid in school. As an adult, I don’t take a sick day unless I really need one.

          2. Czhorat

            You’re supposed to bend over, fake stomach cramps and lick your hands. You then present them as cold and clammy, which is a good non-specific symptom and will get you out of school without sending you to the doctor.

            1. VintageLydia

              Doesn’t work so well with girls. “It’s just period cramps. Get over it!” (Obviously not every administrator or nurse was horrible about that, but enough are.)

              1. Noobtastic

                “But, I’m not ON my period!”

                Works three weeks out of four, right?

                When I was in third or fourth grade, I learned how to do convincing special effects make-up, to get out P.E. But it didn’t last long, because I had to do it again every day, and make it look like I was healing. Really hard to keep up, and not worth it. I was proud of my skills, but got over the urge to skive off pretty quickly.

        2. ThursdaysGeek

          I remember putting my fevered forehead against a cold window and then immediately running to my mum and telling her I didn’t have a temperature any more, so I could go to school now. It didn’t work. She felt my forehead and probably figured I shouldn’t go to school if I was cold and dead, either.

          1. Delta Delta

            I tried something similar. I told my mom I didn’t have an ear infection but that my ear hurt because I banged it against a wall. Luckily, she outsmarted 4 year old me and kept me home.

      3. KR

        This was my dad. He used to tell me that I had to at least try going to school and see how I felt. Which of course I felt well enough to sit in class with a box of tissues, running out of the room every few minutes for coughing fits, but I’m sure I didn’t get better any faster.

      4. Marillenbaum

        Your parents sound a bit like my mom: in her case, she was a single mom who couldn’t always afford to take days off because I was sick, so until I was 12 and legally old enough to stay home by myself, it was generally “Are you throwing up? Then grab your coat and go to the bus stop; I don’t have time to drive you to school today.”

      1. Myrin

        Not at all, actually. She lived with her dad, whom I knew very well because I later went on to work for him for more than five years. He was a very healthy person – now that I think about it, I can’t remember ever seeing him being sick – but he wasn’t at all disapproving of or strict with regards to taking time off because of your health. I can imagine, though, that she tried to be like him, with the one difference that she actually did become sick all the time which simply wasn’t the case for him.

  20. Wrench Turner

    You hire me knowing my rates and THEN try telling me you’ll only pay me for the the time you actually see me turning wrenches? Yeah, good luck with that. 4 hour minimum is quite common across lots of industries, so you’re not out of place enforcing it, but you’ve GOT to enforce it. If you have a written contract and this part wasn’t in there, submit an addendum “I noticed this part wasn’t covered in the contract, but we had an oral agreement, and I want to correct the oversight,” and have them sign off on it. If you’re working just on a handshake, also quite common, and this was part of the initial agreement, remind them and invoice them for the full time.

    And then do not come back until they’ve paid you for it. DON’T DO IT. Even if you may feel guilty (I do). “I’m sorry, but as per our agreement, I’m owed 4 hours minimum for any on site work. I will return as soon your billing is up to date.” If they won’t sign off on the addendum, terminate the contract if you can. Don’t sign another without it. White or blue collar it’s the same. A contract is agreement, not coercion or obedience. You have power here, too.

    1. Meg Murry

      I also wonder if part of it is in the wording. If OP is sending a bill for “4 hours” but only worked 2 hours. OP, do you send in a time sheet for your billing or is it an invoice? If it’s an invoice, list it as “On-site fee, January 31st, $4X”, instead of “4 hours at $X per hour”. Then any time a client asks you to come on site, you can say “Ok, I can come to a meeting on January 31st at 8 am. The on-site charge will be $4X, and will cover any on-site work until 12 pm. Any additional work beyond 12 pm will be charged at my normal hourly rate of $X.” Then if you get any pushback from the finance department you can include that email exchange in with your disputed invoice.

      Depending on who your customers are, it might just be a terminology thing – they can’t pay you for 4 hours if you didn’t work 4 hours, or that could look inappropriate – but they can pay an “on-site fee” or similar.

      If you have to submit to your clients using a billing sheet that they designed instead of your own invoices, can you look through the contracts you have signed and see if there is any other language in there that you can use besides hourly rate? Set-up charge, billing for travel time to the site, etc? Perhaps if the 4 hour minimum doesn’t work, you could instead say you charge a $2X fee for on-site work in addition to your hourly rate, but waive that charge for any on-site work over 4 hours? You could also opt to waive the on-site fee at your discretion when you know that it is in your best interest to go to the client site and meet face to face to iron out all the details rather than try to sort out a project with piecemeal emails.

      1. 4Hours

        OP3 here. I think your point about terminology is spot on: they can’t pay me 4 hours if I didn’t work 4 hours, but they can pay an “on-site fee” or some other type of charge. This is the system I’m going to use moving forward.

        So, now, the next question: how do I implement this change in terms? I just raised my rates on Jan 1; it would have been great to make this change at the same time (alas). The company is changing my direct supervisor soon. Perhaps I can handle this with the new person who is taking over engaging freelancers.

        1. Natalie

          I think you can just be straightforward about what has been happening, especially with the new point-of-contact: In the past you have had trouble getting paid your minimum billing because of how you billed it, so you are changing the wording of your bills to make this easier for their finance department.

          Just in case you’re feeling any lingering embarrassment or that you must have done something wrong, know that it is 100% normal to charge minimums and these companies are being overly rigid. Maybe you have to play their dumb terminology game to get paid, but that doesn’t mean you mis-stepped.

        2. Yetanotherjennifer

          And don’t feel the need to have a tidy and logical start time for this. Diets don’t have to start on Mondays and policy changes don’t either. A situation has come up and you have changed your billing policies in response. In fact, I’d do it now so you don’t have to negotiate contract changes with a stranger who doesn’t know your work. If anyone asks further questions you can say you make it a practice not to talk about your other clients and that you appreciate their flexibility in this matter. Let them think they’re not the problem.

  21. Emlen

    OP 1, don’t feel bad about having questions. You’ve died and gone to heaven, and it’s only natural to feel confused.

    1. BRR

      It can be difficult to adjust the way you work when things change. I was exempt in my last job but still had very little flexibility in my schedule. My current job is super flexible. When I started and asked to take a sick day for a dr appointment my manager was so confused because nobody does that. You can just leave and go to it.

  22. OP#1

    Just to clarify for those who are saying that the policy is in place because someone has a compromise or suppressed immune system: I work in HR and with access to all the information I have I know this is definitely not the case. The company has four offices and 800+ employees, the policy is in place for all locations and people (including the CEO) and was put in place when the company was founded three decades ago.

    1. De

      Why do you think HR would know this? I was on immunosuppression drugs for RA for years and never told HR (only my team leader).

      1. Grits McGee

        De’s right- unless someone specifically requested ADA accommodation, there’s really no reason for HR to know that information. Plus, there are tons of people that don’t necessarily have a formal diagnosis of a compromised immune system, but for whatever reason always catch whatever bug is going around. (One of my friend’s moms was like this-poor woman was a teacher and had students at school and taking lessons in her home. There was literally no escape.)

        1. doreen

          HR might not necessarily know if someone has a compromised immune system – I can certainly have a diagnosis and not tell HR. But if HR doesn’t know about my diagnosis then they can’t make decisions based/ on my diagnosis .

    2. Sled dog mama

      Sorry but as HR you aren’t going to know that I live with my 95 year old grandfather and anything I bring home has the potential to put him in the hospital or that I’m volunteering at the children’s hospital reading books to immune compromised kids or…..
      Especially with 800+ people you have no way to know 100% that no one is immune compromised that is not something they are obligated to tell their employer.

    3. Lablizard

      HR does not know everyone’s health status, only the status of those who need FMLA (if in US) or other applicable short-term disability laws (if outside the US). With a policy like yours in place, immunocompromised people might be getting sick less and for shorter time periods, so never need FMLA or other accommodation for their illness so they might not need to come to you.

      It is a great policy that keeps the workforce productive and healthy, because people are often contagious even when they are “just stuffed up” or “have the sniffles”. If you feel the need to ask for a policy change, address the work from home issue instead.

    4. Helen

      I think what OP meant is the policy was not put in place because an immunocrompromised was hired or suddenly got sick, but that it has been in place since the company was founded and things have always been that way.

      OP doesn’t say that no one in their office is immunocrompromised or lives with someone who is, they said that’s not why the policy is in place. If a company wide policy was put in place (applying to everyone including the CEO) because someone is immunocrompromised HR would likely know the reasoning given that it’s a company with over 800 employees and multiple locations.

      OP also says the company doesn’t allow working from home so that’s not an option for them.

      1. OP#1

        Yes that’s exactly what I am saying. Thank you Helen.

        I didn’t claim anywhere that I know the health status of everyone at the company, or their loved ones. The no coming in sick policy was put in place when the company was founded back in the ’80s and has always been there. It’s interesting to me that despite me saying this isn’t the reason, people are still claiming it is or saying that I don’t know everyone’s health status which I never even claimed to know.

        1. Lablizard

          You are new, though, aren’t you, which is why you were surprised to be sent home and not allowed back with the sniffles? You might not know the full history of why it was put in place in the 80s. Which is fine because it is irrelevant, the policy is what it is and it is a good one.

          Why don’t you push to change the work from home policy instead since feeling like you were behind was what made the mandatory sick leave so onerous? If that was changed, would your feelings about the sick leave policy change?

        2. De

          “The no coming in sick policy was put in place when the company was founded back in the ’80s and has always been there.”

          Which might be because whoever founded the company had a vulnerable loved one at home. Or was just sick of getting sick by other people. Or had been through chemo. Or any other reason. I think people’s point here is that these kind of policies do prevent harm to vulnerable people and just generally improve employee’s health and that’s a good thing.

          1. AnonAnalyst

            My last employer didn’t have an official policy in place insisting that sick employees stay home, but you would get major side-eye from everyone if you went in sick. Especially the people who had been there for a long time, many of whom were in leadership roles in the organization. While one of them did have an immunocompromised relative at home, the rest were just tired of people bringing illnesses into the office that would get them (and everyone else) sick. And they recognized that no individual employee was so critical to the company’s day-to-day operations that the organization couldn’t spare them for a few days to recover.

            I wish my current company was more like this. Instead, we have a culture where coming in sick shows how dedicated you are. So I have had coworkers show up with the flu for a full week and it’s viewed by management as a badge of honor.

          2. Going soft

            Founded in the 80s – when Aids first became big news ? Maybe a reason there – maybe not.

            I’d love a policy like this to be enacted in my workplace. The amount of people who come in sick, coughing and spluttering everywhere is insane. Sometimes our 100 person floor sounds like an old TB ward. For someone like me, where any “little” cold has a very serious impact, it’s incredibly dangerous. And our sick leave policy is quite generous and we can work from home. It annoys me no end.

        3. Recruit-o-Rama

          I am just curious….how do they handle people with really bad allergies. Sometimes I am coughing, sneezing, red eyed and sniffly for weeks at a time and I am not sick, I am allergic to certain types of pollen. I mean, I APPEAR to be on my deathbed and I certainly FEEL like I am about to die, but I’m not contagious and I cannot imagine not being able to work for the amount of time I spend in this condition.

          1. OP#1

            I was told if the coughing or any other symptoms are as a result a non-contagious illness so doctors note would be accepted. So in a case of you having allergies, if you brought in a doctors note you wouldn’t have to stay home on sick leave.

            If the coughing, sneezing etc. was caused by an illness that was at any point contagious, a doctors note will not be accepted and you must stay home. My doctor has confirmed that I am no longer contagious but I still have a stuffy nose so I’m not allowed to return yet. I have to be home on paid sick leave.

            1. Recruit-o-Rama

              I think this policy is well intentioned but really short sighted. I cannot imagine having to go to the doctor and pay a co-pay every single time my allergies flare up. I would not be able to work at your company. My allergies can be triggered by any number of things; I’ll be fine at 8 AM and a dripping mess by lunchtime because someone with a dog at home sat too close to me for an hour (or something similar)

                1. Doreen

                  I wouldn’t expect that to be the case if the company will not accept a doctor’s note saying you aren’t contagious – people with allergies can catch colds and I would expect that this company would want a note for each separate flare-up.

              1. Anon13

                I agree! I understand the thought behind the policy and think it could be a good one, but it sounds like the company is being a bit strict in the execution. I understand the OP’s frustration.

            2. BananaPants

              “If the coughing, sneezing etc. was caused by an illness that was at any point contagious, a doctors note will not be accepted and you must stay home. ”

              This is something that I find problematic. “At any point contagious” does NOT mean “contagious as long as symptoms exist.” Many viral illnesses are contagious before any symptoms are shown, and a lot of bacterial illnesses are done being contagious once appropriate treatment has been provided. The business has good intentions, but unless the owner is a physician it’s not their place to override a doctor (or PA or APRN) exercising medical judgment on the nature of their patient’s condition.

              Strep throat, for example, is considered non-contagious after 24 hours on antibiotics, but you might have a lingering sore throat or laryngitis for a week. I’d be pretty pissed if my employer thought they knew better than my physician when I was no longer contagious and able to return to work. It’s paternalistic and weird.

              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                They are not overriding your physician’s judgment and insisting that you are contagious. They are saying they don’t want you at work while you have symptoms. That is their prerogative, as long as they are willing to pay you for not working, which they are.

                1. Purest Green

                  I think we (or maybe just me) are failing to understand what the company gains by making symptomatic-but-not-contagious-employees who are willing to work stay away from the workplace.

                2. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Just speculating but:
                  * short-circuits people who otherwise would come back in far earlier than they should (there are lots of those people out there) and avoids debates about whether or not you really should be back at work; allows them to tell you to just stay home
                  * lets you continue to rest until you are fully well, which many people would consider a generous thing to do
                  * prevents your coworkers from dealing with potential disruption from your symptoms (I’ve received lots of letters from people driven to madness by a coworker’s constant hacking cough or sniffing)
                  * means that they’re not incentivizing people to go to the doctor just to get a note

                3. Anna

                  Yes to this. Back when H1N1 was a thing, I got it. I was down for DAAAAYS. At one point I thought I was all right and then my fever came back. It broke again and I contacted my boss and let her know my fever had broken the night before and I should be all right to come in. I was not allowed back in until I had gone 48 hours without a fever.

                  The point being I was out for four days with a weekend in between and it was entirely up to my boss when I was allowed to come back. Four of us in the department all got sick at about the same time and they were rightfully worried that more of us would go out. Our work was time-sensitive so having even four of us gone at once was a huge problem. I can’t imagine what would have happened if more people had gone down.

        4. Ask a Manager Post author

          Well, it could be that the reason it was put in place when the company was founded was because one of the early employees was immunocompromised or lived with someone who was. That’s not something you’d likely see in HR files. It could also be that that person doesn’t work there anymore but the company realized through that experience that there are lots of people who fall in that category and it would be a good policy to have regardless of what they do or don’t know about the health of their employees and people they come into contact with.

          Since you started your first job in December, I’m assuming you’re in an entry-level position, and thus this really isn’t info you can assume you would have. But you can certainly ask your boss about the rationale for the policy (which is a good thing for someone working in HR to understand anyway).

          But I would be very wary of being sure that if there was something to know, you’d know it. You’ve been at your junior-level job for two months! You’re just starting to learn the company.

          1. Important Moi

            Wow. All of the commenters have been very nice to OP1.

            Am I the only who wonders how important OP1 thinks their presence is?

            I am biased because I have a co-worker who showed up coughing Monday, hacking up a lung Tuesday. By Tuesday afternoon, my boss told him to go amidst his declarations that “he’s really busy, doing important stuff, his not being here would be a problem.” As a co-worker, I was not impressed, I wanted him gone and was grateful my boss sent him home…and he was too sick to come in the rest of the week!

            1. Recruit-o-Rama

              The commenters are nice to the OP because that’s how this discussion board operates. We are capable of having a discussion and even disagreements while at the same time as being nice. I assume her presence is important as does her company since they pay her for her time. Why would you question her “importance” anyway? She is new to the work force and is asking a legitimate question, of course we’re being nice to her. Why wouldn’t we be nice to her?

              1. 4Hours

                Hello — I’m OP3. Thanks for this comment. Part of why I felt comfortable submitting my question here is because of the congenial and respectful tone of the commenting community.

            2. Anonish

              Ugh, yes. Our office is open-plan and our entire team has been sick TWICE this winter already because we have a coworker who comes into work hacking and sneezing for a week. It is definitely a “I’m too important to possibly miss anything that’s going on” thing. Our company doesn’t encourage working from home on a regular basis, but it’s definitely allowed if you’re sick or waiting for the cable guy or whatever, and it drives me crazy that our team has lost so much productivity over the last few months because everyone has been so sick.

            3. tiger

              I mean, I was just out for a week after unexpected emergency surgery. I’ve been back for two and I’m still playing catch up with my work. Having to miss a week over a cold would be annoying AF. At least when I go on vacation, I have enough time in advance to schedule things and make alternative plans. Unexpected long absences are very difficult at my job.

              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                This company has been in business, seemingly successfully, since the 80s (according to one of the OP’s comments). There’s no reason to think that they haven’t found a way to handle this. Maybe they’re appropriately staffed to cover absences. Maybe they have reasonable expectations about workload.

                This is a company that appears to care about people’s health. It’s not so hard to imagine that they’ve found a way to make this work for people.

          2. Grits McGee

            It would also be entirely plausible that one experience 30 years ago of an office of otherwise healthy workers being decimated by the flu would be enough to motivate this kind of policy.

    5. BRR

      I think this policy and HR has a lot in commmon, to serve in the best interest of the company :). Healthy employees are more productive.

      Rereading your letter it sounds like this is your first full-time job. This policy is not wasteful. There will always be things to get done. Prioritizing work means prioritizing an endless task and while there will be times things must get finished before a deadline, that should hopefully not always be the case.

      1. hermit crab

        Yep – since the policy has been in place for decades, it’s clearly working out for this business (at least, it hasn’t killed the company yet)! Personally, I think the specifics of implementation/enforcement seem a bit overboard, but it’s way better than having no sick time at all.

        It’s a very interesting counterpoint to all the companies who are like “Oh no, we could never stay in business if we offered paid sick leave.” Here’s a business that is literally paying people to not work, unplanned, for weeks at a time… and the company is apparently doing fine!

        1. Lily Rowan

          As other people have said, I bet it reduces the need for sick leave overall among the staff, too! We’ve all (all except the OP!) been in offices where viruses work their way around the team so you’re short-staffed for weeks and months because of it.

    6. Anxa

      I think it’s still possible someone is IC. Also, maybe someone in the past was or they are want to make it easier in the future if someone is. Maybe it’s just something they value.

      If, however, they hire part-time employers, temps, contractors, other other class of employees who do not have paid time off, then their policy isn’t about contagious illness or health.

  23. NCKat

    OP1 – I sit across from an employee who is going through chemo, and the last thing I want to do is make her deathly ill from a cold she caught from me. So I’ll take my laptop home and work from home if need be. Besides, it’s now a company policy that people do not come in if they are sick with colds or flu.

  24. On Fire

    OP 1: even if none of your coworkers are immunosuppressed (and I agree with others that you wouldn’t necessarily know), you don’t know what else is going on in their personal lives. During my dad’s final months, exposure to a minor bug could have shortened his life drastically. We were all very careful if we knew we had been around sick people, so that we didn’t carry something to him that would never have affected us.

    Seriously, this is a great policy. My office isn’t quite as stringent as yours, but we have generous sick leave and are encouraged to use it.

    OP 3: agreeing with PPs, add to your written contract a “minimum fee of $X for a site visit up to four hours, and $Y per additional hour, billed in (hour, half-hour, whatever) increments.”

    1. Mookie

      Good point. Inadvertently ringing home something contagious can have serious consequences for your employee and their friends and family. Containment of disease is good risk-aversion strategy and practiced all over the world.

      Also, anti-vaxxers exist, and children, the immunosuppressed, and the immunodeficient among them often suffer serious consequences when a diminishing herd immunity is combined with the conscious (and however well-intended) decision by acquaintances and colleagues to abstain from voluntary quarantine when warranted.

      1. Anna

        The only issue with that theory is that there is no way to avoid contagions if you are out doing things in the world. Even if you wash your hands thoroughly, you’ve probably picked something up and taken it home. The thing is, it doesn’t matter and the OP doesn’t need to worry about why or worry about any of that because there’s no way to know.

        1. Mookie

          Except that because of her workplace policies, LW1 does need to know, worry about, and abide by it. Not knowing the medical histories of her colleagues and their families is not equivalent to there being no consequences to flouting proscribed policy.

  25. Countess Boochie Flagrante

    #1: It sounds like management is a bit hardass on the enforcement side (going forward you’ll get disciplined for coming into work even slightly ill?) but overall this is a fantastic policy! Don’t worry about what you’re seeing as wasted time — that is something that the company has already built into their productivity calculations, and apparently they like the tradeoff.

    1. Susie

      That’s because there is no way that any company anywhere would actually enforce a policy like this. It might be strongly encouraged but there is no way a professional workplace would forbid people from coming in sick or getting them in trouble when they do.

      1. Jessesgirl72

        She said she was made to go home and told that since she was new, she wouldn’t be penalized, but if it happened again, she’d be disciplined.

        That’s pretty explicitly enforcing it.

  26. Pomelo

    #2 one possibility, as Jane is presumably copied in these emails, is that she is trying to stay on top of her inbox and wants to make sure there isn’t any action she needs to take. Might help to make sure everyone is clear who is responsible when emails get sent to multiple recipients.

    1. 2 Cents

      Since Jane is working remotely, this might be her way of indicating she’s actually at her computer/checking her email and working. She may believe that otherwise, some coworkers (rightly or wrongly) doubt her productivity, so she’s doing this to everyone so she can be like “look, i was working at 2:04 because I sent this message!”

  27. Recruit-o-Rama

    OP#5-the company DID tell you why they rejected you, “…we have made the difficult decision to pursue a candidate with qualifications that more closely suit our needs at this time”

    in my role, I reject at least 5 interviewed candidates daily, sometimes many more. We use a template because it’s professional to notify candidates if we are rejecting them, but a huge time suck to customize every letter. Further, it opens us to debate reasons for rejection with candidates who do not take the rejection in a professional manner.

    In the hiring process, we frequently end our final interview round with more than one candidate who would be a good fit. In this case, the hiring manager has to make a call and pick the candidate they feel edges out the rest of the pack and sometimes it’s nothing specific.

    I have been on the job search side before and I know it really sucks, but please try to not take it as a personal rejection because it is really not.

    1. Mazzy

      My thoughts too. I don’t always get the fixating on why you were rejected. Maybe because I’m in the work world long enough to have seen positions and companies I would have died to be in see their star fall….or they paid less than I thought, as per the grap vine. The only action items would be “you’re great and your references don’t jive with you or not your application at all”

      1. Recruit-o-Rama

        I get why people fixate on it, job searching can be so demoralizing. It feels impersonal to be rejected by a form letter, in some ways it is. I try super hard to be as kind as possible but I have to have boundaries or I would do nothing but give feedback and debate reasons.

  28. Allypopx

    OP #1 – I would have a really hard time adjusting to this too. It’s such a change from most workplace norms that I would personally feel consistently guilty, or unproductive, or frustrated by being forced not to come into work while I was sick. But it’s a good policy, and I think you’ll get used to it once you adjust your mindset.

    There’s a net productivity value to it. You’re less likely to be sick when people aren’t coming to work sick, and the days you are there you’ll be giving 100% instead of 60-70%, so the math could easily work out in the company’s favor here, just in terms of work output.

    Are you finding any consequences to taking the extra day to get better? Did you come back to a pile of work or unmet deadlines or anything like that? If so maybe you can talk to your supervisor about how to manage projects and workload next time you get sick.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      Are you finding any consequences to taking the extra day to get better? Did you come back to a pile of work or unmet deadlines or anything like that? If so maybe you can talk to your supervisor about how to manage projects and workload next time you get sick.

      Yeah, this is really the core of it. Presumably, if the company has been pursuing this policy for any length of time, they are already aware that this is something that is likely to happen, and your supervisor will probably have some good suggestions about how to manage returning, especially if you’ve been out ill for multiple days.

  29. Czhorat

    For OP The Fourth – I always put the same thing on my LinkedIn and social media as I have on my business card, and include verbiage in whatever description fields are available to clarify what I do. ie, “Tempest Containment Design Specialist. I’m responsible for all aspects of teapot design, from client consultation through quality-assurance testing on completed teapots, including adherence to aesthetic and maelstrom envelopment specifications”. The only people you’ll miss that way are those who search solely on job titles for keywords, and they likely aren’t worth speaking with anyway. Anecdotally, with a title as generic as “Senior Consultant” I got more recruiter calls than I cared for, the majority of which were actually relevant.

    As Alison said, you can easily explain it [I’m a Teapot Designer. We call them Tempest Containment Specialists here at Miranda Teapots, LLC]. I’d rather spend time explaining why I’m an interesting and strong candidate than have to expend any energy or capital defending my choice of title.

  30. Joseph

    #3: “I charge a minimum fee of $X for each visit to perform on-site work, which includes up to four hours on-site. Because this fee accounts for travel time, work performed off-site is not included in this fee and will be billed separately.”
    I work with a lot of subcontractors and independent consultants and can confirm this is very common. In fact, it’s fairly common in my industry for the minimum fee to be at a slightly *higher* rate than the normal hourly rate – the minimum 4-hr fee is $350, but the hourly rate after that is only $80/hour. The extra cost is meant to cover various mobilization costs – drive time, tolls/parking, etc.

  31. Audiophile

    #5 I’d love to know who originally wrote that rejection email, because that’s basically word for word every rejection I’ve ever received from every company I’ve ever applied to.

    I’ve been in OP’s position, told my references would be checked only to get rejected later. In both cases, my references were not contacted. And while I’d love to know why I wasn’t selected, I know it most cases it wouldn’t be very helpful.

    1. Czhorat

      There only is one rejection letter. Everyone else just crosses off the company name and re-uses it.

      It was originally written by a cave-person to reject an applicant for the “acquisition of uncured hides and animal flesh” position. This is known to history as the original job hunt.

    2. alarmstead

      My references were checked because they contacted me and let me know. I am having a hard time dealing with the rejection because I really want out of my current job. The last two interviews I had were at the same company/University for two different positions in two different departments. After the first half day interview with a site tour and meeting several different people, my references were checked and I thought I would receive and offer letter. Instead a got an rejection email that encouraged me to ask questions. I asked what I could have done differently but did not receive a response.

      The most recent half day interview was with 3 people that I thought went well. When I asked the manager who the position reported to what qualities should the person have she said all of your qualities. I received an email from the HR coordinator a week ago letting me know that my references would be checked and then I received this rejection email.

      1. Czhorat

        Unless your qualities are unique, there’s always a chance that someone who is similarly qualified will be chosen over you. It’s not always personal, it’s not always something you did wrong, and it’s not always even knowable. I know this isnt’ satisfying, but sometimes all you can do is send the resume back out and try again elsewhere.

        Good luck.

      2. Taylor Swift

        Maybe it’s your references? Or it could just be bad luck — somebody else was slightly more qualified than you or hit it off just a little better.

  32. Applesauced

    I’m all for staying home when you have a cold, but this policy seems WAY to extreme. I typically at least one cold every year and it lasts for 1 ½-2 weeks (that’s from scratchy throat, to the stuffy nose, to the hacking cough) are you expected to stay home for over a week?! Yes, it’s generous, but I would go out of my mind staying home sick for that long.
    And what about your PTO balance? Is there a limit to how much you can take? Does this affect your vacation time?

    1. OP#1

      We have a bank of days called ‘vacation days’. That’s where our days off come from. We don’t get anything like lieu time or PTO.

      Sick time is paid but doesn’t come out out of or vacation day bank.

      1. Corky's wife Bonnie

        Ah, I was just about to come on here to ask if you have a certain number of days that are paid or if they are all paid. I am very jealous, I only get five sick days a year and I’ve already used two in January. A good flu can wipe all five sick days out in one shot.

      2. Meg Murry

        Does it count toward FMLA time though? I worked at a company that technically offered paid sick time, but they counted it against your FMLA balance, so if you took off a week for a cold and another for the flu in the winter but then needed to take FMLA to care for a family member you only had 10 weeks left, not 12. Or is OP outside the US and this therefore isn’t relevant?

    2. Cat

      Yeah, I get why this seems good if you’re used to being forced to come in sick, but it actually just seems maddening to me. The post-cold coughing stage isn’t dangerous and being home for that amount of time is totally unnecessary.

      1. Mustache Cat

        I assume the rationale is because there are more diseases in the workplaces than common colds, where the coughing stage actually is contagious. If you let people with common colds come back to the work while coughing, you open the expectation to others who are sick that they should come in with a cough (when they may or may not be contagious) and then this entire sick leave policy falls apart. That’s what I think, anyway.

      2. Myrin

        I would guess the company doesn’t actually force its employees to stay in their beds at all times as soon as they’ve called in sick, so you could do literally anything else, just not come in to work.

        1. Cat

          I don’t know – if you really encourage people to take sick time, I think most people, once they understand the message, will wait long enough to come back. Isn’t it the earlier stage of colds where you’re really contagious anyway?

          1. A Plain-Dealing Villain

            Maybe part of getting the message across is being super strict with the new hires. If this thread is teaching me anything, it’s that people really feel the need to go into work when they are sick. It’s possible this company doesn’t push this hard against longer term employees who understand that they really do want you to take sick leave.

            1. Cat

              I am not sure that’s fair. I don’t feel the need to go into work sick. I do want to go into work when I’m not sick but may sound like I have the remnants of a cold. For a lot of reasons, including that I care about my work and my clients.

      3. Graciosa

        It may be unnecessary, but I would regard it is as a gift.

        There are so many things I could do if I had an extra week at home – paid – with only a minor cough.

        If the OP really wants to feel productive, I suspect there are opportunities outside the office.

        There may be someone out there without so much as a drawer to straighten, but I’ve never met them –

        1. Natalie

          Seriously! I have a huge garden that takes up a lot of my summer free time. I’d be licking subway poles hoping to get sick in the summer if I worked here.

  33. Turtlewings

    While I agree that LW #1’s sick leave policy is amazing and wonderful, I do wonder if it’s just a little bit overboard. When I get a bad cold, the symptoms tend to linger for *weeks* — maybe even months. It seems ridiculous to keep me out of work for an extra two weeks or more after I feel perfectly fine, and surely am not contagious anymore, I’m just still wiping my nose occasionally.

    1. Jenbug

      I am pretty much stuffy/congested all winter. It’s not a cold and I’m not sure if it’s allergies or what.

      1. Taylor Swift

        Yeah, I’ve got some sinus issues that can be particularly bad in the winter when it gets cold and dry. It’s definitely not contagious unless we’re talking about genes I may potentially pass on to my offspring. It would be annoying to be told to stay home from work because of that. It happens on and off all winter!

  34. Important Moi

    OP1: I don’t know if it has been said up thread but in spite of your concern about the policy seeming “wasteful” as your c0-worker I’m NOT impressed with your willingness come sick. Your co-workers won’t be impressed if you make them sick. You haven’t mentioned what you do at the Teapot Co., but whatever it is its not so important that you must be there when your sick.

    1. writelhd

      Perhaps, but wanting to have some flexibility to get some work done from home if one is able to do that seems like a reasonable thing to want to do, especially if policy requires that much staying away.

  35. PepperVL

    I wonder what would happen to OP1 if he got sick at work? I’ve certainly had times where I felt fine in the morning, but by afternoon or evening I was sick – you don’t always wake up with it. Once, I got to work feeling fine at 8, started coughing a little around 10, and by noon had a full-blown cough and fever (and went home). Would OP1 get in trouble for coming in that day?

      1. The Strand

        I would like them to explain it to my employer, who wants you to schedule all sick time at least 16 hours ahead: if you do more than one “unscheduled” sick day (eg become sick on the job), you get counseled; if you have two, your manager gets counseled!

        1. Phyllis B

          My new manager will not approve any sick leave requested more than 24 hours ahead. I asked her what if you have to have surgery? Never got a clear answer. Also, now they (not her, TPTB) have instituted a policy that on bad weather days you are not allowed to take sick days(!!!!!!!!!!!) if you don’t have any vacation/personal days left you have to take it unpaid.

  36. Dust Bunny

    LW1: Roll with it.

    Yes, you could be getting work done, but you’d also be touching doorknobs, desks, the kitchenette, etc. All the surfaces your coworkers also touch. You’ll get over it faster if you stay home and rest and your coworkers will be glad you’re not sharing germs. My employer doesn’t *forbid* us to come in but we are encouraged to call in if we’re not feeling well, and since I never call in sick if I’m not actually sick, I have no qualms about calling in if I am. I’ve worked places that pressured me to work while ill, or made calling in a massive inconvenience and, trust me, you don’t want to underappreciate this.

  37. Liz2

    Ugh the corporate culture at my place is very much “if you don’t let me know you saw the email I sent an hour ago and are working on it I will call/text/send another email to make sure you got it.” SO irksome, especially as my most consistent feedback has been how quickly and efficiently I respond to requests!

    Had that happen once for a non priority meeting request sent over LUNCH and the person was hankering at me less than an hour later. I pushed that straight to the bottom of my list and didn’t get to it until late that day. I think it helped as I haven’t had as much of the “reminders” since.

    1. Jessesgirl72

      In this case, though, it’s not the email sender who is giving the reminders.

      I think it’s best practice to send a confirmation that I’ve received an email. It’s not like emails don’t get lost (or silently sent to the new Outlook spam folder that’s not labeled spam- I have been burnt by that new “feature” on both sides!) If I don’t get one, I’d wait more than an hour, but I’d send a reminder. The non priority meeting request may have seemed not urgent to you, but to the person with a lot of meetings to squeeze in, it might have been a priority to the sender to know she could schedule/accept another meeting at that time if you couldn’t make it.

      1. Natalie

        If something appears non-urgent but the sender needs an immediate response because of their calendar, they should just SAY SO in the initial email instead of pestering people that couldn’t read their mind.

        Speaking only for myself, I find same-day follow ups to non-emergency things incredibly annoying, because I am good at keeping on top of my inbox and I don’t need to be bothered like a child for someone’s non-emergency. It strongly colors my opinion of the sender and any willingness I would have had to go an extra mile for them pretty much evaporates. YMMV.

      2. Liz2

        Nope- sending a confirm for every email is needless and just more spam. 80% of my stuff gets responded to within a few hours of receipt. Sending a confirmation of working on it is something I do (in part because the culture expects it here) if I know it will take longer, but otherwise confirming actually REDUCES efficiency and responsiveness.

        As for that request, the person themselves noted in the email it wasn’t urgent, he just had a mental itch to scratch to make sure it was off his plate.

  38. eplawyer

    #1 – I get where you are coming from. You were hired to work. Nothing makes you feel worse when sick than knowing you are coming back to a pile of stuff on your desk. Even with this police in place for decades, co-workers have their own work. Inevitably there will still be a lot left to do. But, this is the company culture. Enjoy it. Just because you can’t work doesn’t mean you have to stay home. Go out and do something you always wanted to do. Go to that Museum you never have time for. Sit in a coffee shop and people watch. R.E.L.A.X.

    #3 — It can be hard when you are freelancing to turn down a client. But that’s what you have to do if they won’t agree to your terms. Look at it this way — you could have been doing other, paid work during those 2 hours they now won’t pay you for. You could be doing paid work rather than fighting with them over the 2 hours. If you lose the client, you can use the time you spent with that client working for other clients and getting paid, or marketing yourself for more business. Dropping the PITA clients pays off in more productivity and more $$$ in the long run.

  39. Mena

    1. When you think about the lost productivity of those that catch your cold in the office, this policy is hardly wasteful at all. If your manager could tell you were sick (sneezing, coughing, stuffed??) then you shouldn’t be in the office. As you gain more work experience (and catch more viruses in the workplace!), you’ll come to appreciate your employer’s awesome sick policy. They are keeping the healthy, healthy, by isolating the sick. (And sadly, this might be less necessary if people were better about hand washing but that is a topic for another day)
    And really, you have no idea whom you may be compromising by bringing your virus to work with you.

    1. Michelle

      Coworkers often poke fun at me because I wash my hands so often, but I have been sick less often since I started doing this.

  40. Will's mom

    OP#1. Get on your knees and give thanks that your company has such a wonderful sick policy. I remember working for a company that punished you for calling in sick. People would come in and get the rest of us sick. I would take the illness home and give it to my husband and children. If Hubby didn’t work, he would not be paid, so he would go in and spread the wealth. I would have to take time off work to take care of sick kids. Factor in Doctor and Rx bills…well you can see where I am going with this. I finally smartened up and got a new job where they discouraged you coming in sick. I was there 5 years and in that time, I only had to take off once for illness, and that was because of a migraine.

  41. Michelle

    I think since OP#1 is still new to the workplace (starting a post college job in December), she may not realize how great this policy is. In many workplaces there is a great deal of pressure to come in even when you are sick. I think by doing that, you not only take longer to get better, it starts the merry-go-round of sickness. I understand that you may have “cabin fever” but this is honestly the best sick policy I have ever heard of.

    Way back when I was young and began working, I caught strep twice in the same month. Long story short- a coworker had strep but came in after going to doctor and being told she was contagious. I was sick 3 days later. It started the rounds and I got it again 3 weeks later because people kept coming in sick. At a different job, I had bronchitis and was coughing so bad I couldn’t talk or really do my job, but we had no paid sick time so I had to come in. I think that was the sickest I had ever been in my life. I was so sick for 6 weeks. If we had paid sick leave as OP #1 had, I could have stayed home and would have gotten better faster.

    OP#1, I really do understand that you are frustrated and want to go back, but there may come a time when you see paid sick time as a blessing.

  42. Lisa

    #2 – My old boss would constantly forward me emails that I was copied on. I often couldn’t tell if he wasn’t checking to see my email address already included, asking for an update, telling me to handle, etc.

    At first I would reply to his email right away and say “I got this too!” or “yep, already on it!” But eventually I started ignoring his instant forwards and just proceeding; he would hear from me when I replied-all to the original email, or updated him that I had done XYZ, etc. (I left that job pretty quickly anyway because I couldn’t stand working with him – this was only a very minor part of it – so I don’t necessarily have any long-term outcome to share.)

    Don’t know if that’s helpful, but can you also ignore Jane’s initial emails, like Alison suggested, and either copy her on the replies or just get back to her afterwards to let her know you handled it? That way you’re not COMPLETELY ignoring her, but you’re not giving her the expectation of instant replies, and even if that doesn’t stop her from sending them, at least it will save you the time of dealing.

    1. AnonAnalyst

      My current manager is like this and it drives me up the wall. Except, he does it in person. Pretty much any time an email comes through that we are both copied on, he comes to my desk to see if I got it. I could understand the concern if I had a habit of losing or not responding to emails, but I have worked here for years and neither of those things has ever happened. I typically respond to emails within the hour unless I’m waiting on information from someone else (ironically, the person I am almost always waiting on is my manager).

      In the past, I have asked if there’s something I have missed or if he is concerned that I will not follow up on the question or respond quickly enough, but he has always said that I haven’t done anything wrong and he doesn’t have concerns, so this is just how he is; he does the same thing with others in the office as well, so it’s not just me. It is super, super annoying, though.

      1. JenniB

        I worked with someone like this and it was so annoying. Even worse, he would never check to see if I was copied on things, but just forward them to me – so I got lots of emails twice and then he would come over to my desk to basically say exactly what was in the email. I agree, super annoying!

        1. DuckDuckMøøse

          Sometimes we get emails from Way On High, only to have them forwarded by Great-grandBoss, GrandBoss, and Boss (I might be forgetting a layer or two) and *then* assorted “helpful” co workers. >.< Yeah, thanks, I saw it the other four (five, six) times.

  43. regina phalange

    #2 – Sorry you have to deal with that, as it sounds extremely annoying. I agree with Alison, especially on ignoring her IMs if you asking her to stop doesn’t actually work.

  44. overcaffeinatedandqueer

    I wish my work had that! Or any PTO. I’m a lawyer and many colleagues, especially now, work with detainees and refugees pro bono on the side. So I worry someone will get something antibiotic resistant or even TB, then bring it to work; and I already have asthma so it would be awful for me.

    We also don’t get any PTO or any ability to take time off to help refugees and immigrants at our airport; so some lawyers are working normally, then working a “graveyard shift” at the airport so as to keep attorneys there 24/7, and coming in on 2-3 hours of sleep, if that.

    1. Emmie

      Bless you for the extra work with refugees. I wanted to volunteer at the airport, but I practice another area of law with very limited experience in immigration law. Do you think there’s room for someone like me to help? If so, can you recommend any organizations? (I understand if you cannot – especially to retain your anonymity here.)

      1. LabTech

        (Oops! Posted this before I saw refreshed the page to see Alison’s comment above. Feel free to delete – sorry!)

  45. BananaPants

    While I agree that OP #1’s employer is very generous, additional detail that has been given in comments does give me pause. OP says that if an illness has been contagious at any point, the employee may not return until all symptoms are gone – even with a doctor’s note indicating that the employee is no longer contagious. An employer should NOT be overruling the medical judgment of a licensed physician, period.

    Daycare centers and schools will accept doctor’s notes indicating that a child is no longer contagious; our pediatrician’s visit note includes a field for when the kid can return to daycare/school. Why won’t this employer?

    It’s generous of the employer to offer paid sick leave for the duration, but I would be concerned that in the long run, frequent absence from work could unduly affect pregnant and parenting employees (schools and daycares are petri dishes) or those with a household member who works in a hospital or school or is otherwise exposed to a lot of germs and brings home viral or contagious bacterial illnesses often. If such an employee is getting sick and forced to be out of work for days or weeks at a time until all symptoms are gone, they’ll be substantially less productive and may be unable to meet work objectives, especially since this employer doesn’t allow employees to work from home.

    1. BTW

      Very good point that I didn’t think of. My sister and her family are always sick because her son (4) is constantly bringing germs home from school.

  46. Machiamellie

    #5 – my boss will not allow me to give any feedback to candidates whatsoever.

    I’ve been burned too many times by giving candidates feedback and then they go above my head to complain or try to plead their case. For example, one candidate couldn’t work the preferred hours, so I politely declined via email and told him that was why. He came back and said he was able to rework his schedule so it would then work. I sent that email to my boss, who still said no (he had other reasons), so I told the candidate sorry, no. He proceeded to call and try to talk to the boss, the owner of the company, etc. and complain that he “bent over backwards” to be the best candidate, etc. It’s just not worth it.

    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

      I’ve had a few candidates go bonkers like this too – a few people seem to take a rejection letter as the first steps of a negotiation, and it’s really, really, really not.

      1. De Minimis

        We automate our response, and the HR person [who generally isn’t on an interview team and doesn’t make a hiring decision] is the one in charge of doing it. It comes from a generic e-mail account. I guess if someone wanted to be difficult they could e-mail the HR person [me] from my contact info when I’m setting up the interview with them, but so far so good…

  47. Emmie

    OP#: AAM’s language is really good. It’s reasonable to have a minimum billing time (that accounts for your travel costs) and to push it back to finance with a copy of the contract.

  48. just my 2cents

    I just started my first job post college this summer and I’m still baffled and amazed by the concept of paid sick time! I remember I had to reanimate my corpse after 24 hours of antibiotics when I had strep throat because I couldn’t afford to miss any more work. I was no longer contagious at that point but boy did I feel lousy. Back then I just wished I HAD sick time. Now I wish I had OP #1’s policy haha.

  49. BTW

    #1 – Can I have your job?! LOL I too, am that person who will come in sick, even if I probably shouldn’t. My work is totally flexible and my manager will tell me to take the day but I want the money. If I got paid sick time I wouldn’t hesitate. I’d be like, “See ya!” If you feel like you’re well enough but aren’t allowed to return quite yet then it just gives you time to catch up on stuff at home.

  50. Chalupa Batman

    #2 is really common in my experience (mostly higher ed). A student or employee will send an e-mail to several different people, and someone (usually the highest on the totem pole, but not always) will e-mail the responsible party asking them to take care of it. It’s more about communication than reminders-now we know who’s working on this task. That may or may not apply to your field, but our solution might work: when I get one of those “take care of this” e-mails, I ignore the reminder and copy the person asking on the response. Since you said Jane’s not above you, it makes sense to tell her it’s not necessary, but if you think of it as her trying to keep communication open about who’s doing what rather than badgering you about things you’re already doing, it may not annoy you as much.

  51. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

    #5: no, you’re not owed a personalized explanation. That’s the standard rejection letter, they send it to everyone, every employer sends it to everyone, and don’t take it personally.

    1. De Minimis

      Some people don’t send anything at all!

      I am always just happy to get a response one way or the other. As someone who sends out a lot of those automated e-mails, I can say there really isn’t time for a personalized response, even when there were only 4-5 interviewees.

  52. Jana

    Question #5: I agree with Alison and other commenters that this is, unfortunately, a pretty standard rejection and that it shouldn’t be taken personally by the candidate. I say “unfortunately” because, while it’s completely reasonable for employers to avoid listing reasons for not choosing a particular candidate (and often it’s not feasible to provide feedback depending on the number of applications), it would often be great for the candidate to get that feedback since there’s so much effort that goes into preparing an application and attending an interview. In a situation where you’ve been brought in for an in-person interview (barring something noticeably problematic), it’s probably safe to assume that you were simply edged out by someone who had some additional skill, experience, or already has a connection with the employer. All that said, it does seem to me (maybe just my luck) that many employers do not care much about appearing polite or considerate of candidates’ time and effort. I’ve been on both sides of job hunts and frankly, as a candidate, I’ve found that getting a canned acknowledgement or rejection is a step above what some employers do.

  53. Creag an Tuire

    #1 — I am going to have to loudly disagree with AAM and the general consensus here — this policy would be disastrous for me. I’m one of those people who gets over the cold in two days but have lingering bronchitis for WEEKS afterwards. I don’t care how generous the sick leave is, there’s no way sidelining me for that long doesn’t hobble my work.

  54. SleeplessKj

    OP #2 mentioned that the person who sends her emails pointing her to emails she just sent works off-site. It’s possible that she just wants to be sure the email got to you – that it’s not that she doesn’t trust you, she might not trust the system. I freelance and can see myself being nervous about that. I would ask her and if that’s the case the two of you can probably figure out a way she can be sure you got the email (set up email receipt notice on her outgoing emails?) without driving you crazy

  55. slick ric flair

    I’m baffled by the response against OP1’s company policy. That seriously sounds like a dream situation – and with the number of companies out there with an opposite policy, or who don’t pay sick days, etc, this is a great situation. Take a couple days off, relax, get better, do some reading, do some studying on your field, and come back refreshed and ready to go.

    To the people saying “I’d be out for a week every year!” – I’m sure the company has dealt with that! It sounds like they totally understand that.

    1. Anon13

      I don’t think being out for a week is a huge deal, but several of us have expressed the concern that we’d be out for months every year. No matter how reasonable the workloads the company assigns are, it would be difficult to recover from not working at all from mid-December through mid-February.

      1. Myrin

        Well, then such an environment might just not be the right one for you. Which is completely fine and happens very often as we hear about it on here all the time and because of all kinds of issues.

  56. CoveredInBees

    #4, you’re totally fine. I had a position that was officially called Attorney Interne (because *no one* would confuse that with being an intern) despite working a full caseload like any other attorney there. Even my business cards didn’t say “Interne” and you can bet my LinkedIn and resume didn’t either because no one outside of my organization was going to understand it. I think clarifying org-specific or confusing job titles does both the job seeker and the hiring personnel a favor.

  57. TK

    #4: My old employer had a similar situation, but worse. I’m a teapot maker and worked with a bunch of teapot makers, but they decided to call all professional staff (who weren’t in IT or administration), “beverage receptacle specialists.” To make things worse, in other divisions at my employer there were coffeepot makers and water jug makers, among several other things– they were also called “beverage receptacle specialists.” In the beverage receptacle world, teapot making and coffeepot making and water jug making (etc.) are all distinct industries with different education and training requirements, though we often work for large employers like mine that do all things beverage receptacle. But calling us all by the same title meant nothing to anyone. On my resume, I just put “Beverage Receptacle Specialist (Chocolate Teapot Maker)” and never thought anything about it.

  58. Volunteer Coordinator in NoVA

    As someone who has a suppressed immune system and is in an office right now where the flu is going around and half of us are sick (including myself which I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t have an event that I have to go to and probably spread more germs around at) and in the office, I would be super excited about this policy. I know you can’t work from home but are there are any things that are semi work related that you could do? I currently have a stack of books and saved articles that I want to read that are work related but never have time to get to. Maybe it’s a good time to do some things that could be helpful to your job but aren’t directly work related.

  59. Nunya

    #2 – How about an ‘out of office’ reply to that coworker only, saying ‘Yes I got your email!’

  60. myswtghst

    I’ve commented in a few places on this post, but for OP#1, I’d just say this – your employer’s policy is their policy. You may be able to influence it some by communicating effectively with your manager about perceived opportunities to improve it, and you may be able to find ways to make it work for you (using the “forced” PTO to take online classes or attend webinars or read books related to your field) or to minimize the impacts to your workload (by identifying work you can do from home or confirming how workload could be redistributed), but it’s unlikely the policy will change drastically anytime soon. So it’s probably worth thinking about whether it’s something you can deal with, or if it’s an indicator this isn’t the culture for you so you can look objectively at what your options might be for your next career move.

  61. Susan

    #1 – I’m a little late to this party, but I felt compelled to comment anyway because I am one of the few in agreement with the OP that this is not a great policy. I’m not saying it’s all bad — the basic idea that people should stay home when they’re contagious is obviously very sound — but I don’t think it makes sense to have such an extreme policy.

    For one thing, I don’t like the idea of the employer policing employees’ health/symptoms. Other people have already given numerous examples of symptoms that can look the same for contagious and non-contagious illnesses. It is not the employer’s business to know the details of the employees’ medical conditions. It is insulting and an unnecessary burden on the healthcare system (and likely a financial burden on the employees) to require employees to get a doctor’s note saying that their illness is not contagious.

    Also, as nice as it sounds to have unlimited paid sick time and get a couple of weeks off every time you get a cough or sniffles, there can be serious drawbacks to policies that force people to take excessive amounts of time off of work. If somebody isn’t covering 100% of your workload when you’re out sick, you could come back to a mountain of work that piled up on your desk while you were out, and then have to work extra hours to catch up. You could end up looking like a bad employee because you missed deadlines when you were forced to stay home, or your overall yearly metrics suffered because of the amount of time you took off. Even if the employer accounts for that and makes sure you’re not penalized for it in reviews, you can still miss opportunities. The OP is new to the workforce and is missing valuable time to learn, gain experience, and build her skills. Maybe she missed out on a high-profile project because she was forced to stay home the week it started. These things can factor into whether someone gets a promotion or raise, and I can completely understand why the OP is concerned.

  62. Kit

    #2… One of my suppliers emails me every Monday at 10-ish to ask if I can submit my order before noon. I submit my order every Monday at 10:30, like clockwork. Yesterday I opened my email at 10:20 to submit the order and joy of joys did NOT have a reminder in my inbox… and then my phone promptly rang. Supplier on the line, asking me to submit my order before noon. I know he needs it by noon! That’s why I always send it early???? Mysterious.

  63. SumGui

    Aw man, I wish my old company had a sickness policy like that! Their policy was “you have to come in, even when you’re as sick as a dog… and no, there’s no sick leave whatsoever. Furthermore, everyone else will constantly complain to you throughout the day that you’ll make them sick too, even though it was them that insisted you had to come in!”

    One of the very many reasons that I had enough and quit.

  64. Big G

    I hope I’m not too late to the thread, cause I have a question in the same vicinity as #4.

    My longest job so far was for a non-profit and had a ridiculous/non-descriptive title: “Program Associate, Public Awareness Project.” I have shortened it to Public Awareness Associate, but I am wondering if I could change it to the for-profit equivalent of “Marketing Associate,” (my job included web/graphic design, web management, social media marketing, and email design and marketing. I also at different points managed PR and was the blog editor)? As long as I made it clear what my technical title was in my references, does anyone think this would be an issue? My manager and I had a brief conversation about changing my title right before I left, but we never decided on anything.

    Thoughts?

  65. Renee

    #1 I think more company’s should utilize that sick policy. Personally, I hate when co-workers come in sick, it infects the entire office with the bug, and on top of that I live with someone who is severely immune compromised because she had her spleen removed and is undergoing her 3rd chemotherapy. So catching the cold can literally be deadly in my family, not for myself, but for someone I love. Never assume that your co-workers are fine with catching your illness because you don’t work in a doctor’s office with a bunch of sick people. If you are sick you need to stay home.

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