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How should employees be expected to deal with sick children?


How should employees be expected to deal with sick children?  

  1. 1. How should employees be expected to deal with sick children?

    • They should use vacation/holiday time?
      34
    • They should use their own sick day allowance?
      114
    • They should ask to do unpaid overtime to make up?
      6
    • They should expect their employer to allow them the time freely?
      1
    • Other?
      19


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I don't see a one-size-fits-all answer. It will depend on the job. Some jobs do not even have sick or vacation days. Some jobs do not have a possibility for overtime.

And it depends on what do you mean by "expected" - expected by whom? By the employer? The coworker? The parent?

 

None of the above applies to me. Whenever one of my kids was sick (so sick that I can not bring them to work), I had to beg a favor from my colleagues and ask them to do my work, i.e. cover my classes. I don't have "sick days" or "vacation days", and the class must be taught - in return, I'll cover some of my colleague's hours. Nowadays I could try to work from home (with technology I could even remote teach), so I think one possible option should be "Parent can work from home". Which, of course, only works in certain jobs.

 

ETA: In my home country, every parent is entitled by law to take ten days per year and child to care for a sick child. During this time, her employer does not have to pay wages/salary. The parent receives a reduced salary (Kinderkrankengeld, 60% or so) from her health insurance company (and yes, we have mandatory health insurance).

Edited by regentrude
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I thought this poll was going to be about the American University professor who brought her sick baby to work. When the child woke she began to breast while continuing to lecture. I haven't read the whole story yet. I'm all for breast feeding, but I think I would have found a way to occupy the baby and end the lecture early before doing that. I think once I knew I was bringing baby to work I would have worked out an "alternative" class strategy (ending early, posting lecture online, etc)

 

Right now I work hourly. If I miss work for a sick child I am not paid. In one of my jobs I must also find someone to take my shift.

 

When I had a salaried job and a baby, my company had a number of days you could take off. Sick, vacation they were all the same. Once you used up your days you used them up. So, I took off when baby was sick.

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When I had a salaried job and a baby, my company had a number of days you could take off. Sick, vacation they were all the same. Once you used up your days you used them up. So, I took off when baby was sick.

 

There is, in addition, an understanding that people do get ill and will miss work for it. I'm on my trial period at the moment, so I haven't seen the detailed terms and conditions. I don't know if there is a maximum number of sick days.

 

Laura

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I thought this poll was going to be about the American University professor who brought her sick baby to work. When the child woke she began to breast while continuing to lecture. I haven't read the whole story yet. I'm all for breast feeding, but I think I would have found a way to occupy the baby and end the lecture early before doing that. I think once I knew I was bringing baby to work I would have worked out an "alternative" class strategy (ending early, posting lecture online, etc)

 

Right now I work hourly. If I miss work for a sick child I am not paid. In one of my jobs I must also find someone to take my shift.

 

When I had a salaried job and a baby, my company had a number of days you could take off. Sick, vacation they were all the same. Once you used up your days you used them up. So, I took off when baby was sick.

 

I thought so as well :001_smile: I actually had a similar situation way back in my college days. Spanish teacher brought her infant to class every day. It was distracting - I was paying hard earned money for my education. I wasn't a fan of sharing the prof with the baby. I'm sure she would not have been happy for me to bring a baby to class :tongue_smilie:

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I work outside of the home for a major, international company.

 

I'm expected to use my vacation days or sick time (Family Leave earned simultaneous to our sick time), but it's not unheard of to be granted (upon request) a "Personal Off" without penalty (or pay). Alternatively, I can find a colleague to work for me and nobody is the wiser. My company only cares that someone shows up to work, they don't care if it's me or someone else. I have a network of colleagues I can call to work for me, most of us are caring for kids or elderly parents and understand the need for last-minute help. The issue is that our job involves days away from home to travel, so it's sometimes a challenge to find a ready replacement this way.

 

My inlaws own their own business of about 20 employees. For the most part, they're happy to work with their employees. They've been parents, too. Their company is an assembly line kind of operation, so when someone is out it can affect the work and turnaround time of others. Most people are cross-trained though so it's not a huge issue. For most cases they'll just give 1-2 days off and work around it. Their employees are good workers, though, so the inlaws are happy to work with them for these unforseen things. For scheduled absences (appts) they usually work around it, too and will allow the employee to come in at any time before/after to make up the work (so as to maintain the turnaround time for the order). This would work if the employee had a spouse that could stay with the child after the spouse's own work day ended.

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I picked the second but either of the top two is reasonable to me.

It's one of the reasons I'm glad that DH's employer doesn't specify what 'type' of days they are. He has Paid Time Off (PTO) that racks up each month and he can use it however, it doesn't matter.

I personally think everyone should do the same. It takes a lot of unnecessary hassle out of it. :)

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Dh could use sick time, holiday time, or comp time because he has to work a lot of unpaid overtime due to being salary and not working for the kind of company that values employees very much.

 

The jobs I worked before I had my own music studio were performance jobs. Barring your own death, with a relative presenting proof of your demise to the orchestra conductor, musical company director, or whatever, you played. So, there was ZERO flexibility. The show must go on as the saying goes. Missing a performance meant getting fired. Forget a sick kid, I dragged myself in with double pneumonia drugged up on a dangerous dose of cough medicine. It's one of the reasons I gave it up. It just wasn't amenable to motherhood and none of the jobs payed well enough to have a nanny.

 

In terms of the music studio, I had flexibility since I owned it. If I didn't work, I didn't get paid. But, at least if the kids were sick, I could call and cancel.

 

DD works as a medic and there is NO taking time off last minute. EMS is under contract to provide X services at ALL times and that means so many paramedic crews on the road at all times. Nobody wants to call 911 and hear that due to the flu epidemic, there isn't anyone to respond to their emergency. So, if she had children and one of them were sick, either the other spouse better stay with that child or she better find someone off duty to beg to take her shift. With less than 24 hrs. notice, she cannot NOT come in unless an ER somewhere says they just admitted her. Vacation days are approved eight weeks in advance.

 

This is why she is changing careers. She loves the job, but is realizing it isn't going to be mommy friendly and she'd like to have kids someday. So, instead of finishing pre-med and going to med-school ending up getting out of a cardio residency about the time her biological clock starts ticking, she's decided to finish a nursing degree. Hospitals do not have to be quite so draconian with their policies and temp agencies can provide nurses when there is a pinch.

 

In terms of expectations, I think that if the employee works a job in which sick days and vacation days are offered as part of the hiring package, then I think that taking one of those days would be appropriate unless the job was an emergency service type thing or related to public safety. Some jobs just aren't amenable to people not being there when they are supposed to be there.

 

Faith

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It depends. Some employers state their policy on this is the employee handbook or HR manual.

 

If they do not do that, then I believe that if it is an irregular, occasional event, then the employee should either use a sick day or vacation day to compensate for it.

 

If it is a child's extended illness or chronic illness, then I think the employee needs to approach the employer to discuss whether accomodations could be made (like flex time, telecommuting, or other work arrangements).

 

I do not think that an employer is obligated to continue to employ someone whose family demands so inhibit their work that they are unreliably available or able to work.

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I do not like the way illness is dealt with in employment, whether that illness is the employee's or a family member's. For example, it is recommended that children who are sick stay out of school and day care until they are no longer contagious, but with some illnesses that can take several days or longer. Most workplaces will not put up with employee's taking several days off for their own illness, let alone a child's. I do not think that sick children should be brought to the workplace, both for their own sake and to prevent contagion.

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I have never had a job where I could call in at the last minute. Once when I was vomiting so hard, I still worked with an IV pole sticking out of my arm. Since I know what type of job I have, I make sure I have a couple of emergency friends who can help with sick children and pets.

 

Therefore, I chose "other".

:)

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How do they work?

 

Laura

 

I have 40 hrs/ yr personal business for anything that I can not do after work. Dr appointment, kids have snow day... I have 140 hrs/yr sick "hrs" I usually just inform my boss I need to take a sick or personal business and the reason. My younger one got sick a lot during her first 2 years of life, she practically visit dr once a week during winter and my job was very good about it.

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Ideally the first two. Sick time is usually allowed off for more spontaneous occurrences, like calling in sick at the last minute. Vacation time usually must be scheduled (at least on the jobs I've had). So you would use your sick days first and hope you didn't use them all.

 

The occasional sick day shouldn't be an issue. The issue arises if you are in a job where others have to cover for you at the last minute on a regular basis. Many jobs can't delay your work and if others are forced to cover you or work your shift that can cause them to fall into overtime. Overtime is closely monitored at some companies because it's usually 1 1/2 times pay. My dh's job is very particular about overtime.

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I don't know that there is any one way to accomplish that, and I don't know that anyone has it really figured out either, in the big picture sense.

 

My husband's constract gives him a number of "family days", I think founr per year. He can use them for sick kids or taking them to appointments or whatever. It hasn't really been an issue for us though, he gets so much comp time for being away he always has lots of days he can take if he needs them when he is in town.

 

I do think this is something that requires some thought by the community at large though. As a society, we seem to have decided that two working parents is the norm and single parents are fairly common now. And I don't think government has any onterest is really having stay at home parents. If that is what we are going to do, the needs of kids for care really needs to be addressed, including sick kids.

 

It's usually the lower paying jobs that have the worst problems. The higher paying employees have a lot more options for hiring a nanny, and many have enough payed sick and vacation days to stay home themselves at least some of the time. But people working for a wage are generally in the worst position.

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I don't see a one-size-fits-all answer. It will depend on the job. Some jobs do not even have sick or vacation days. Some jobs do not have a possibility for overtime.

 

:iagree: I have seen the following solutions:

 

Take child to work (when my Mom was a school secretary she would do this sometimes, also seen it when working in bank admin).

 

Make up time (dh has worked extra hours each day until caught up).

 

Work from home (dh did this when I was in hospital with ds for 5 days when he was born, also took dd with to work appointments where needed).

 

Use own sick leave (ie call in sick when not sick)

 

Dh had been in a new job for 5 weeks when dd was in hospital for 2 days - they allowed him to offset those days against future days they would owe him (for working away from home on the weekends). In other words it was handled informally and kindly, and did not impact on his annual leave.

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Dh's employer specifically says sick days can be used if the employee OR anyone in their household is sick. At the same time, at the end of the year, unused sick days essentially convert to money, so there is an incentive not to use them frivolously. The employer pays the same $ whether you take the sick days or not. The employee is expected to get the work done, regardless. This wouldn't work for every job, though.

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I think it really depends on the job. At some jobs, the employer would have to pay a substitute, so it seems fair that the employee should have to use his/her own personal/vacation/sick time. At other jobs, there really isn't a substitute, and the employee will have to do the work anyway, at some point -- it seems reasonable not to dock the employee pay or paid time off for that.

 

When I was a nanny, I got a certain amount of vacation days, paid at full pay, and I also got a certain number of sick days, for which I was given half pay. That seemed very fair to me -- my bosses would still have to scramble for childcare if I was sick (either taking off themselves, and since they are doctors, that would mean canceling patients, or they'd have to pay for emergency childcare -- but at the same time, they didn't need me coming to care for their children if I was so sick I should be in bed, and I had bills to pay too). I actually never used a sick day, so when I left, they paid me a nice bonus, but I thought the policy was very reasonable. :)

 

DH doesn't have sick time, so when our baby was born, he took four days off, and that came out of his vacation time, so it was paid. And even still, he did have to field the occasional call from his office, because there isn't really anyone who can substitute for him.

Edited by happypamama
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Hubby is in R&D and does not get official sick leave. However he works from home if he is sick or anyone of us is sick. Eventhough I am a SAHM, I can't drive so his boss understands why he needs to come home and drive us to the doctors. For his department, they don't need to take leave to go to doctor/dental appointments and such. They just need to let the boss know. He drives me to my obgyn appointments and kids to their wellbaby appointments without having to take any leave. He does have to clear whatever work he gets that day.

 

However he does not get overtime pay and during busy project season, he works until 9pm or later in the laboratory.

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I picked the second but either of the top two is reasonable to me.

It's one of the reasons I'm glad that DH's employer doesn't specify what 'type' of days they are. He has Paid Time Off (PTO) that racks up each month and he can use it however, it doesn't matter.

 

 

I only work very part time, so for me, I just get a sub and the sub is paid instead of me. However, dh would take PTO if he needed to. It is all combined, not separated into sick or vacation days.

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I work from home now, so I just keep an eye on the sick kid while I'm working and no one is the wiser. My colleagues (both men and women) who usually work from the office will work from home when one of their kids is sick and just send an email saying that's why they are working from home. My current company gives us a set number of personal holidays and vacation days, but we have no set sick time. (We're expected to take sick days when we need them.)

 

In the old days, when working from home wasn't an option, my company gave me a set number of sick days and vacation days. I used sick time for my own illness or the illness of my child. If I had used up all my sick time, I would have used vacation time. (Fortunately, between DH and I and nearby grandparents plus a kid who rarely got sick, we never got to that point.)

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The first of the year we all, except dh, had the flu. He was able to work from home and didn't have to use any sick/vacation time. That's usually how it works. His sick days are for when he is actually sick, and his vacation days are for actual vacations. If he stays home because someone else is ill, he just works from home. The employees at his company all are issued laptops so it makes it easy to telecommute when needed, though.

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Lower paying jobs are awful for this. A cycle develops:

 

Kids get sick (sometimes it even seems like they get sick more frequently), parent (usually mom) takes off from a job that does not pay when she is not there. Child needs a Dr. visit, medicine, impacting the budget in another way. The employer often gets irritated. Parents are streseed.

 

Higher paying jobs often come with the expectation that parents can "cover" or "handle" the issue, but it's not always possible. Even those budgets are stretched.

 

Salaried employees have an implied "understanding" of a certain number of hours, availability, and productivity. It can quickly become "on the radar" of employers or co workers that Miss Mom has repeated issues, and the possibility of percieved privilege looms.

 

On the other side of things, parents complain about the cost of child care. And child care owners and workers are low paying jobs.........

 

Sick, twisted cycle.

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I went with other. It depends DH has taken family medical leave when DS had his accident, used his PTO days (no separate sick leave) , used overtime hours and also worked from home depending on the situation.

 

At his new job, knock on wood, the policy is just take the days off as needed if you or your family member is sick, work from home if you if not no biggie, just don't abuse the freedom.

 

It really depends on the job and environment.

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When I worked fulltime we got separate vacation and sick days ( maybe one sick day a month?). The HR book specifically said that you could use your sick days to care for a sick child. It wasn't the kind of job where anyone actually checked what you did with your sick days so they would never have known the difference if you used them for yourself or for a child.

 

If the absence was 4 days or longer, then FMLA (family and medical leave act) kicked in. That's the US law for extended sick or caregiver time and what companies with more than 50 people can and cannot do to an employee who is sick or caring for someone. If your position and company qualify under that law, they have to give you the time off but it doesn't have to be paid. We could take FMLA leave and use sick days simultaniously to get weeks of sick leave paid. That's what people used for maternity leave and things like that. You'd save your sick days and then you would get paid during your leave.

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When I worked in the public service, they had personal leave instead of sick leave. You could use it to care for a sick child or parent, for medical appointments, or anything important and personal. That seemed to work reasonably well.

 

It's a really hard call to make though. Now, as a parent, I'd say yes, employers should do everything humanly possible to make the workplace family friendly. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to have a child with a serious or chronic condition and then to also be worrying about finances and the risk of losing your job.

 

But on the other hand I clearly remember when I was 22, with no children, thinking how unfair it was that those people with children were always expecting special treatment because they were tired, had to take their kid to the doctor, or they wanted their days off during school holidays :blush:

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I got 10 sick days per year when I worked. There were no vacation days (I was a school counselor so vacation was when students were off.)

 

I was allowed to use them for my children being sick or really for any reason. Our district told us that even though they were all called "sick" days, they knew we needed "mental health days" occasionally too.

 

Dawn

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But on the other hand I clearly remember when I was 22, with no children, thinking how unfair it was that those people with children were always expecting special treatment because they were tired, had to take their kid to the doctor, or they wanted their days off during school holidays :blush:

 

I have children and and I am definitely not 22 anymore, but I still feel this way.

Edited by mirth
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I voted that they should use their own sick days, but I really think it could be many different choices. They could use personal days, holidays, etc. I think that employers also need to be a little flexible with this, because if they want to keep a good employee, they need to understand that life doesn't always fit into a work schedule.

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I have children and and I definitely not 22 anymore, but I think feel this way.

 

 

:iagree: Part of being a responsible parent is having contingency plans in place which do not upset the work environment. But it's no different than smoker's needing extra break time, special religious holidays, and everything else that upsets the regular work flow of a company. As employees, we know there's 100% chance our kiddos will be out sick for something, at some point. So there's plenty of time to plan, in my opinion.

 

Once one works a job where there is no emergency absence allowed ever, not even for mom's funeral, then one can understand just how easy it is to have contingency plans. So it really depends on how much one wants to invest in the job. If the job isn't important, don't worry about it. But if the job is life and death, then one will be able to find alternatives to missing work.

 

:)

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My dh is salary. If the doctor's visit included travel, he takes vacation days (leave). If he is taking one of us to the doctor or taking care of us somehow locally, he just does it. In his almost 26 years at this job, it hasn't been very often at all. But there were days when I had to have a procedure with general anesthesia and needed him to take me or sometimes days when he had to take a kid in because I was unable to for some reason (like a broken leg where I couldn't walk).

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Every job I worked (at about 10 different companies over the years), everyone had the same number of days off (with vacation based on length of service) regardless of whether they were parents or not. Parents could take them for sick kids, doctors visits, etc. Those who weren't parents could take a trip to the shore, or stay home to treat a hangover.

 

One place I worked had a very high Muslim/Hindu population (Indian company) and they didn't even define Holidays. Everyone had 10 holiday days they could use for whatever they celebrated. They only closed for Thanksgiving.

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