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How Covid made sick day go away


Many workers find themselves, consciously or not, mimicking the behavior of their bosses. They see managers answering emails from their beds and think they should do the same.

Thus, some bosses are taking a firmer line on the use of their leave. Jim Canales, head of the Barr Foundation, a philanthropic organization focused on the arts, education and climate, caught Covid about a month ago. Mr Canales has spent the past two years urging his team to take care of themselves, and he knew working on his illness would undermine that message. He sent a morning email to his staff noting that it was Friday the 13th, Mercury was in retrograde and had tested positive for Covid – and did not plan to be available for meetings or e -mails.

“I can’t preach a message of self-care for two years and then behave differently,” he said.

Mr. Canales has revamped his organization’s sick leave policies during the pandemic, in a bid to encourage employees to actually enjoy their time off. He renamed sick days to health days, so workers know they can also be used to care for family members. This health leave was also made unlimited, so no one felt the pressure to keep it for the future.

But even as some employers encourage workers to use their free time, many others are abandoning the benefits introduced during the pandemic. This spring, Amazon announced a return to its pre-pandemic sick leave. Walmart stopped offering emergency paid time off to most of its employees with Covid at the end of March, instead asking employees to use their usual bank of paid time off and sick days.

Some argue that the disappearance of sick days prevents them from fully recovering. Angela Lewis, who works at a speakers bureau, tested positive for coronavirus last month, along with the rest of her family. Her son stayed home after school and her self-employed husband slept. Ms Lewis, meanwhile, dropped a note in Slack to say she had Covid, then worked through her standard working week, despite her congested head feeling like she weighed 100 pounds.

“Some people kind of have a badge of honor, like, ‘Yeah, I worked on it, that was good,'” she said. the same thing.”

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