Mike Davies

On contagion and knowing your rights

It was – in fact you could say it is, since I’m writing this from my bed – a simple viral infection, which apparently is cured by laying here for who knows how long, drinking as many fluids as I can and letting my stupid body take care of it.

There’s nothing, according to the doctor I saw, that just makes this thing go away any faster.

Guess I’m using up the rest of my sick days for the year.

That thought got me to thinking about when I was working as a server in the food and beverage industry, which was my career for about 15 years, not that long ago.

Back then, if I came down with something, I would still have to stay home, but I certainly wouldn’t be getting paid if I did.

And possibly rightly so.

I mean, it’s not like I could have been of any kind of benefit to my company from my bed, right? At least these days I can periodically pull my laptop off my bedside table and pen a few lines for the paper.

I’m not sure they’re making any sense, since they are being written through a fog of Neo Citron and other over the counter medications, but that’s what I have an editor for, right?

In any case, I was thinking about how difficult it would have been to be off for three or more days with contagion when being in the building helping my employer was my only means of earning enough to live inside and eat food and how that must still be the case for a good number of the people who make our society work.

I remember going in to work – and I’m not proud of this – when I absolutely shouldn’t have.

I can’t say for sure, but I probably spread things to other people at times, because I thought I couldn’t financially afford to not be there.

I certainly didn’t get any “paid sick days.”

The thought of that would have been laughable.

Then, since I was in front of my computer anyway, I looked up “Sick Days in BC.”

I found out that there’s this thing called the Short Term Illness and Injury Plan (STIIP), where people who miss work due to – you guessed it – illness or injury can receive 75 per cent of their regular rate of pay. Did other people know this? Why I went through 15 years of employment in the food and beverage industry without being told about STIIP, I’ll never know.

Maybe they didn’t want people to know they could get paid 75 per cent of their wage if they were sick and stayed home.

I hope I’m being pessimistic and it was simply information that employers aren’t aware of or they think their employees already know.

In either of those cases, however, I urge both employees and employers to read up on these benefits and share them with others.

Because people shouldn’t be going in to work feeling how I feel right now, just because they think they need to do so in order to make rent.

And for employers that actually don’t want their employees in their building if they’re sick – like my current one – and don’t punish them financially for falling ill, thank you for giving your people the chance to get well when they need it.