Despite the world living through a pandemic for nearly two-and-a-half years, employers are still at odds on how to support employees during sick leaves.
Research has indicated that current vaccines are less protective against new strains of Covid-19, leading workers who contract the virus to use their annual allotment of sick paid days. This doesn’t take into account workers with children — if these kids contract Covid-19 at school, parents are forced to use sick time to care for them.
Despite the nuances and complications that the pandemic has brought to time-off policies, few employers have made the necessary adjustments to accommodate this reality.
Additionally, the migration of jobs in recent months means that many new employees have yet to accrue the sick leave needed, a model that perhaps should be reworked in a pandemic-stricken era.
Not only are people risking getting Covid-19 just being members of society, many are also contracting the virus at work itself.
“I’m an in-person medical provider who was exposed to COVID at work two weeks ago, developed symptoms, and am now testing positive,” wrote one anonymous professional wrote to Alison Green, who runs an online forum called Ask A Manager.
“My company is saying that I can go into negative for PTO to pay for time I’ll have to be out, but there is no other way I’d be paid. … I’m really frustrated that they knew I was exposed at work; they informed me even, and still they’re acting as if this is somehow my fault and I can just go weeks without pay.”
Because reinfection has become increasingly likely with the BA.5 spread, employers are once again being forced to reconcile with pre-pandemic norms.
Offering more flexibility in scheduling, better childcare policies, and improved PTO policies will be critical as the world continues to juggle with living alongside Covid-19.