The COVID pandemic taught our corporate overlords nothing. It should have taught the American people that companies care about profits over humanity, but half the population seems okay with that.
One employee’s story of coming to work while ill highlights America’s massive problem with sick leave and healthcare in general.
Working at a Hotel
The Original Poster (OP) works in hospitality, an industry renowned for low pay, poor schedules, and few benefits. As a hotel employee, they interact with guests from around the world.
Sick Leave Policies
Op lives in California so has slightly better protections than average Americans. The Golden State mandates three paid days of sick leave per year.
However, the hotel had an additional COVID policy, forcing employees to take five days off if they tested positive for the contagious disease.
Unfortunately, OP caught COVID earlier in the year. They stayed home from work, using up all their paid time off for sick leave. The illness also forced them to use all their accrued vacation time.
Around the same time, the hotel decided (along with the federal government) that the COVID pandemic was over. It silently removed the COVID sick leave policies without telling employees while also dismantling all the hand sanitizer stations and asking employees to remove their masks.
OP caught another cold. They have a fever and feel horrible. But their employer has no exceptions to the sick leave policy.
OP doesn’t have sick leave or vacation time available. If they stay home from work, they won’t get paid.
Can’t Afford To Miss a Day
The financial situation brings us to the insidious way lack of paid time off and a society that prioritizes profits above all else twist together into a vine of evil villainy.
OP can not afford to miss a single day of pay. They work full-time, but wages haven’t kept up with inflation, so OP only brings home about $1800 a month. Rent takes most of that, so despite having roommates, OP only has about $300 monthly for food, utilities, and other miscellaneous expenses.
OP Must Work While Sick
Seeing no alternatives, OP went to work sick. They do their best to prevent the spread by masking and using a copious amount of hand sanitizer, but they still feel horrible for their coworkers and guests.
But they can’t afford to lose even one day’s pay.
Don’t Say Get a Better Job
Many people will scoff at the story, saying it’s OP’s fault and they need to get a better job if they want benefits.
Don’t. Just Don’t.
I don’t care what your job is. A full-time worker should be able to afford to live – full stop. Anyone who works full-time should be able to afford food, housing, medical care, and a few extras.
OP even admits that they’re applying for other jobs but haven’t had much success yet. Getting another job isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially when most openings have similar sick leave policies and pay.
The Rest of the World Baffled
Americans accept our awful sick leave practices, but the rest of the world looks on in horror. Most Western nations have unlimited sick leave policies, which the government helps fund, so it’s not all on the company.
The idea of coming in when you’re sick because you can’t afford the paycheck you’ll miss if you stay home sickens most of the developed world.
America bills itself as the best country in the world, but the best country in the world would allow its citizens to rest and recover when they’re sick. American society doesn’t care – they’d rather spread illness than risk those sweet corporate profits.
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