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How Do You Tell a Sick Co-Worker to Go Home?

Speak Up: How Do You Handle a Sick Co-Worker?

It's officially cold and flu season at Sugar HQ. While there are more desks than usual sitting empty — a telltale sign of a co-worker resting at home — I'm also surrounded by the sounds of my colleagues' coughs and sniffles. Not without blame, I'm part of this crew. In my defense, I did stay home through the worst of my cold and returned to the office today with only a slight cough.

A recent article in the Boston Globe explored the delicate balance of handling a sick co-worker and the best way to tell them to skedaddle when they're too sick to work. Working at the office won't do much to further their wellness, says the article, and of course the infected risk spreading their germs from cubicle to cubicle like a wildfire. In the time of the swine, no one wants to be sitting next to the person hacking up phlegm.

To find out how to tell a sick colleague to go home,


How do you tell a dedicated employee to go home and rest, and ultimately do you say anything at all? The article suggests the polite approach: "‘It looks like you’re not feeling well, you really should be at home because that’s where you’re going to recover and recuperate. How can I help you wrap up what you’re doing so you can get home?’’’ But sometimes going home means no pay — what about those employees who cannot afford to take the time off? Do we just stock up on extra bottles of hand sanitizer and cross our fingers that we'll remain unscathed?

It still seems better for one employee to take a few days off then risk infecting the entire staff, but in every office environment you're bound to encounter people who don't feel comfortable missing work. If that's the case, the article suggests sending around "an e-mailed link to one of the many humorous videos floating across the Web that encourage good disease etiquette, such as coughing into the crook of the elbow and washing hands frequently." This doesn't seem like much of a solution, but it should brighten up the day of those feeling under the weather. Laughter is always good medicine in my book.

This article definitely raises a pertinent question: Would you be able to tell a sick co-worker to go home? How would you handle it? Please share your ideas with me in the comments section below.

Image Source: Getty
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