When the pandemic hit, you probably had a lot of questions about what to do. If your employer requires you to come into work during the pandemic, but you have a medical condition that makes it dangerous for you to be in contact with other people at work, then this article is for you! We will discuss why some people are afraid of coming to work because they have a medical condition and how that fear can be managed.
Pandemic fears are very real. The media has reported on them extensively, and if you have an illness that makes it difficult for you to be around other people it can make your life scary. You are afraid of contaminating others with your disease, even though you would never want to do something like that. Your fear is completely understandable. However, this is a pandemic which means that the disease is already all around us. Many many many more people will become infected with this virus before it ends, regardless of what we do or don’t do in terms of work attendance. Distressing as the idea may be, there isn’t anything that separates most workplaces from any other public space in cities across North America – our offices just happen to be full of employees rather than busloads of people, but anyone who enters our building comes in contact with the same air that we do, breathes it for some time before moving on to another space or goes home and shares it with their family. Your fears are natural and you may think that going to work exposes you to more risk – however if you have a medical condition that makes working difficult for you then perhaps staying away from work will expose others to more risk?
If your employer requires you to come into work because there is no other option available, then I want you to focus on this final question: “Am I willing to go back into quarantine at the end of my employment contract?” If the answer is yes then by all means go to work. Your duty to your employer is no greater than your duty to yourself and your family; if you believe that you will be able to cope with the physical and emotional demands of coming into contact with other people while sick, then you should go in if there is no option for flexible hours or remote work. If you answer the question differently, then I would say it might be more selfish to attend work while others remain exposed simply because you feel like you need a paycheck at the end of the week and there’s nothing else available – not when we know that staying home can effectively reduce chances of passing on an illness!
If there are options available for remote work, flex hours during which someone can start later or work from home, or other forms of accommodation such as a private office that reduces the chances of passing on illness then it is more than okay to ask your employer for them. You should not be penalized simply because you have a medical condition and need some flexibility during an emergency like this one. But if those options aren’t available and you think coming in will make you sicker, then perhaps staying away from work would be the best thing for yourself and everyone around you – after all we know already that staying home can effectively reduce chances of spreading!
Whatever choice you make, remember that your health is important. Don’t let others pressure you into believing something with which they are uncomfortable – if they don’t share your fears about being at work while ill, then they are not being rational. The best choice for you is the one that allows you to stay healthy so that you might be able to return to work as soon as your employer can make allowances for your limitations. Don’t let people shame you into believing that you have a moral obligation to come in when sick.
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