State Capitol News
2:48 pm
Tue November 10, 2009

State pushes for flexibility with flu

Phoenix, AZ – The state's top health official wants businesses to let workers
stay home -- and pay them if necessary -- if they're sick with
the flu. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer explains.

Will Humble said the ideal situation would be for workers to use
their sick or vacation time. The problem comes when they don't
have any of that to use. He said where possible employers should
encourage telecommuting. Humble said that's what his agency does.

"But we also ask them to demonstrate that they can effectively
get the job done through the telecommuting program, that they're
not helping their kids with homework and checking the pool and
mowing the grass and all that kind of stuff. We want to make sure
that we're actually getting a day's work out of a person who's
telecommuting."

Humble said that, obviously, not all work can be done from home.
He said that does put pressure on employers to let workers who
are sick come in anyway because someone needs to install those
tires. But Humble said companies need to consider the longer-term
implications.

"One sick person is one sick person and you lose some
productivity. But virus is very communicable. It spreads easily.
So one sick person turns into five sick people or 10 sick people
or 20 sick people. And that really puts a dent in your ability to
accomplish your goals."

And Humble said that, given the virulence of the virus, no one
should admire or reward workers who come in when they're sick.