Workplace Flu and Colds

7 Feb

Letterbalm Woman with ColdDear LetterBalm: I’m the manager in an office, and already several of my employees have been out with the flu this season. It wreaks havoc with productivity and scheduling, and some workers have returned too early, infecting others. I need to write a policy directive, but I don’t want to sound like a nanny. How should I say it?

–Coughs and Sniffles

Ms. L.B. is reaching for the face mask and the handwipes. Flu-and-cold season is already particularly vicious this year. Have you checked with human resources? A policy may already exist. In any case, be sure to review sick-day policies with your own supervisors and involve managers of other departments that work with you. Also be sure to circulate the memo to everyone in your own department. Here’s what your directive might say:

Many of us have been suffering with colds and flu. This year is turning into a particularly harsh season. To make things better for everyone, we’ve instituted a few cold-weather recommendations. Doctors advise properly disposing of used tissues and coughing or sneezing into your arm instead of your hand. Face masks are available at various places in the office. The masks can be worn if they don’t interfere with your work. You’ll also notice containers of anti-bacterial handwipes in the restrooms, the reception area, the meeting rooms and other public areas of the office. Please use them on surfaces and door handles to keep germs at bay. If you do fall ill, please check with your supervisor regarding working from home if you recover enough to do so. We know you want to get back to work, but please don’t return to the office until you are fully recovered. If you have concerns about these guidelines and how they have an impact on sick days, please talk with your supervisor. By all means, stay healthy.


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