Attitude towards sick leave contributing to spread of flu

With the current flu season lasting a little longer than usual (Rain, cool weather may have prolonged flu season; Jan 17), the Ministry of Health should run more public education messages in the media to discourage people from going to work or crowded places when they are unwell.

Our workplaces are probably the most potent route of disease transmission. However, many employees still report to the office when they are feeling ill.

The problem could lie with the management, which should review the firm's policy on absenteeism to see if the attitude towards subordinates who call in sick is pressuring them to return to work.

Employers can foster a healthier work environment by educating workers about the risks of spreading germs and discouraging them from coming to office when they have a valid medical excuse.

Unfortunately, many bosses are too quick to dismiss those who call in sick as not genuinely incapacitated by their illness - especially if it is the common cold or even flu.

Our mobility also aggravates the situation as we travel to the office in crowded buses and trains, as well as when we visit foodcourts.

Once employers are convinced that workers who come in sick could infect others and lower the company's productivity, they will take the necessary action to protect the well-being of others.

Simon Owen Khoo Kim San

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 20, 2018, with the headline 'Attitude towards sick leave contributing to spread of flu'. Print Edition | Subscribe