Michaels: Time to do away with the sick note policy and trust your employees

"I’d poke my head from the germ-free confines of my cubicle and chastise my boss for his seemingly incessant series of maladies..."

Once upon a time, with the swagger of one who never had children, I’d poke my head from the germ-free confines of my cubicle and chastise my boss for his seemingly incessant series of maladies.

He was sick so often, I called him Typhoid Barry—a delightful homage to Irish immigrant Mary Mallon, who infected dozens of people with typhoid fever in 1900s New York, while seemingly staying healthy herself.

It was a weak comparison made simply for the opportunity to rhyme, as editor-Barry always looked quite ill.  He took umbrage at the often used moniker, and more than once said through  painful sounding wheezes and sniffles, “you wait until you have kids.”

“Never,” I scoffed.

Fast forward a few years and I’ve had to eat my words as I did indeed have my own little germ sponge. At two-years-old, mine spends a good portion of his nights adorably sneezing mucus into my eyes. Earlier this week we pulled something from his nose he later told everyone he met, was “as big as his head.” It was a brilliant observation, but I’ve seen a couple stifled gags from those who heard the story.

It’s all a part of glorious, glorious breeding, I suppose.

The down side is I’m half-dead on a seemingly regular basis. Germs and half the sleep of my pre-human-producing days are a recipe for snotty, zombie-itis.

So what to do when the inevitable cold sets in?

I once prided myself on being the type of person who never took a sick day, which was largely because I was never sick.

Now my streak is over, I’ve found myself caught in the awkward position of wanting to go to work to do my part and, you know, get paid, while not wanting to get more ill and, even worse, infect my co-workers. So  I wrongly trudge into my now germy-cubicle, come what may.

I know I’m not alone. People go to work, because they too are martyrs or, in many cases, that’s just what’s expected, unless a doctor says otherwise.

Taking advantage of this human failure of trust, my doctor charges $15 a pop for sick notes. This is clearly because he doesn’t make enough money asking his beleaguered patients to open their mouths so he can say, “get some cough drops, see you later.”  It’s nuts. All of it.

We now live in a world where employers who presumably trust their employees to do all sorts of thinking and acting on their behalf, don’t trust them to assess their own well being. And, in turn, the side industry of writing sick-notes.

It’s time to make a shift, for the health of all, and perhaps an Albertan doctor’s letter posted to the website Reddit by “eaglel66” will help.

The now gone-viral note reads: “To whom it may concern. *** has had, by their own report, a cold today and sensibly stayed home from work rather than spreading this to his colleagues/customers. I have no test for the common cold and therefore believe him. However you feel his time and mine should be wasted by making him sit in a walk in clinic for hours and me spending my time writing a sick note that I could be spending on people who genuinely need my attention. Please reconsider your policy on this—there are surely better ways of wasting your tax dollars.”

I’d like to see all doctors who aren’t trying to make a side income on the misfortune of others follow that doctor’s lead and shame the sense back into society. If they’re feeling crappy, give the sickies some sleep in time and, in turn, give them their swagger back.




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